Studio may be near sale, restructuring

MGM has set March 19 as the deadline for receiving binding bids on its assets — a sign that it may be close to working out a sale or restructuring.

The studio had no comment but a source close to MGM disclosed the deadline Monday.

MGM invited a half-dozen bidders last month to participate in a second round of bidding, which included allowing qualified bidders the opportunity to go over MGM’s internal financials.

People with knowedge of the situation said bidders include Time Warner and Lionsgate. With $5 billion in cash remaining from the sale of its cable systems, Time Warner has been viewed as a likely bidder since MGM put itself up for sale in November.

As for Lionsgate, it’s facing a tender offer from Carl Icahn to boost his stake to nearly 30% — partly because the billionaire wants to have a say in possible acquisitions such as MGM.

MGM received two more months of exemption from debt payments on Jan. 29 as lenders agreed to extend the “forbearance” period on interest payments on its debts until March 31.

The studio released a single film, a remake of “Fame,” in the past year. Its next film, comedy “Hot Tub Time Machine,” opens March 26.

MGM is facing repayment of its $250 million revolving credit line in early April and a $1 billion payment on its $3.7 billion debt in July 2011. Studio was taken private five years ago by a consortium that included Sony, Providence Equity, TPG Capital, Comcast, DLJ Merchant and Quadrangle.

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