MGM CEO Gary Barber has been fired by the studio's board of directors -- just five months after he signed a new contract that runs through 2022.MGM Holdings made the announcement Monday evening, saying it had initiated a CEO transition and and executive search for Barber's successor. The company said Barber had led MGM "with distinction over the past eight years."MGM gave no reason for his firing. Sources familiar with the situation said Barber was blindsided by the news Monday...
Being at the helm of a classic Hollywood studio that has weathered its share of financial hardships wasn’t easy, but Gary Barber proved again and again he was up to the task of reinventing MGM. One masterstroke came in April 2017, when he agreed to purchase the stakes Lionsgate and Paramount had in cable network Epix for nearly $1 billion. He also pledged to up content spend significantly in 2017 to make sure its programming pipeline stayed humming, the key to staying competitive in a very cluttered space.
Epix capped a series of moves going back years that have the MGM lion roaring again. Barber streamlined the 4,000-plus-film title company and then expanded selectively. The biggest leap was completing a $625 million mega buyout of Mark Burnett’s prolific production business in 2016 to pump up MGM’s TV programming. MGM has also rolled out TV channels and on-demand services stocked with its movies.
In mid-2016, MGM firmed up a five-year, $1 billion line of bank credit, coming full circle from its 2010 bankruptcy. To provide new movies and TV programs to freshen its library, the studio revives filmmaking mostly in partnerships, although results are mixed.
MGM’s thinly-traded stock climbs as adjusted EBITDA profit soared to over $400 million annually in 2014 and 2015. The company can keep building, seek a merger or have MGM go public down the road.
Barber joined in 2010 after MGM emerged from bankruptcy where creditors took over, but was ultimately fired by MGM’s board in 2018. Earlier, he held senior posts at Spyglass Entertainment (“27 Dresses “), a company he co-founded and will now re-launch as Spyglass Media Group in 2019, as well as Morgan Creek and Vestron. He also produced movies and has a finance background. Barber earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.