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Starz, Lionsgate Shares Rise on Renewed Merger Chatter

Shares of Starz and Lionsgate were on the rise Thursday after a report about renewed merger talks between the cable programming group and studio.

The companies are already linked through the 14.5% voting stake that Lionsgate acquired in Starz in its transaction early last year with Starz majority shareholder John Malone. That deal saw Lionsgate acquire some of Malone’s Starz holdings in exchange for a 10% stake in the studio and three board seats.

The Street reported that Lionsgate has recently approached Starz to restart merger talks. The sides were exploring a deal earlier this year, as Lionsgate disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in February, but the conversations cooled off after Lionsgate’s stock took a dive on the heels of disappointing returns for the final installment in its “Hunger Games” franchise.

Lionsgate shares shot up after the news broke Thursday morning, closing at $21.75, a 5.8% gain. Starz finished out the trading day with a 5.5% spike to close at $29.33.

A rep for Lionsgate declined to comment on the report. Starz reps could not immediately be reached for comment.

Starz and Lionsgate are seen as a natural fit given the pay cable group’s need for high-end series content and Lionsgate’s success in fielding shows including “Orange Is the New Black” and “Mad Men.” CBS Corp. and AMC Networks have also been mentioned as potential partners for Starz.

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht has made it clear he expects Starz to be involved in some kind of M&A activity in the near future.

(Pictured: Starz’s “Outlander”)

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