Duo sign letter of intent to head troubled studio

Spyglass toppers’ Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum have signed a non-binding letter of intent to become co-chairmen and co-CEOs of troubled MGM.

The studio had no comment Wednesday about the development and reps for the execs were not immediately available. But a source close to the situation indicated the duo have agreed to take the reins of MGM once the studio’s restructured its finances and filed for a pre-packaged bankruptcy.

Barber and Birnbaum have emerged over the past month as the leading candidates to take over management of MGM following discussions with MGM’s leading creditors, which include Anchorage Advisors and Highland Capital.

The Spyglass execs presented a plan on Aug. 18 for restoring the Lion’s roar to more than 100 creditors, who would absolve much of the studio’s $4 billion in debt and take a majority equity stake in the company, along with providing some working capital. A major component of the plan would likely include shuttering MGM’s distribution operation with MGM’s slate distributed through another major.

The development comes a week before the Sept. 15 expiration of the forbearance on debt payments with lenders likely to be asked soon for another forbearance. The creditors have agreed six times to forgive debt payments since last September.

The studio was put up for sale in November but failed to draw bids that were high enough to satisfy the creditors. MGM’s assets include the James Bond franchise and half of “The Hobbit” films, its name and logo, the United Artists operations, a library with more than 4,000 titles and a bare-bones film and TV operation.

MGM’s lone release this year, “Hot Tub Time Machine,” grossed $50 million.

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