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MGM tries to manage loan

Studio on the hunt for new revenue

The Lion is on the hunt for fresh coin — but the hunt just got a lot harder.

With the world’s credit markets seizing up, MGM is in a tough position as it tries to manage a $3.7 billion loan that comes due in 2012 and enhance its long-term capital structure.

One possibility is snagging a new equity investor. It’s even possible that investor could end up with a controlling interest in MGM.

On Tuesday, a Lion spokesman denied a New York Post report that Indian entertainment conglom Reliance ADA Groups has restarted talks with MGM, now that Reliance’s deal with DreamWorks is completed.

A Lion spokesman said the report was erroneous.

Over the summer, MGM hired Goldman Sachs to court potential investors. Reliance was among the companies that the Lion talked to, but those discussions have ended.

As part of its long-term capital structure, MGM has $3.7 billion in debt and pays $300 million a year in interest. MGM wants to refinance the loan, which is due in 2012.

There are several different options, including taking on a new equity investor and taking the company public.

MGM insists it isn’t for sale. It also says its existing financing arrangements are sufficient to cover its needs.

Studio also is in the process of securing a film financing fund of approximately $450 million to $500 million. Under the direction of motion picture group chief Mary Parent, the company is on a mission to fill its slate with inhouse productions, a shift from its previous strategy of relying on third-party output deals.

“Our object is to build the company organically, and we are confident that we can do that,” MGM’s Jeff Pryor said.

MGM is valued primarily for its library. How successful the company is in resolving its long-term capital issues will likely depend on how prospective investors value its archive of 4,000 titles.

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