Suit filed in MGM merger

The $573 million MGM/Metromedia merger, whose idea was it?

Sidney Sapsowitz says it was his, and in a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court the former MGM finance exec VP is suing to get his 5% finder’s fee of $28.65 million.

Sapsowitz said he was promised the finder’s fee by Metromedia Entertainment Group CEO Leonard White last March, in exchange for getting an “expression of interest” from MGM for a deal. White also assured Sapsowitz that Metromedia tycoon John Kluge was in favor of seeking a deal with MGM, the suit alleges.

Sapsowitz, 71, was a finance exec at MGM from 1957 until 1985.

MGM officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday night. But sources close to MGM say that, in fact, the first contact on the potential merger came in early April 1997, when MGM chairman Frank Mancuso was in New York to participate in Variety’s Big Picture Conference. While in Gotham, Mancuso met secretly with Metromedia CEO Stuart Subotnick.

Defendants include Kluge, White, Subotnick, Metromedia and Orion. The suit seeks unspecified punitive damages.

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