MGM and Amazon declined to comment on reports about deal talks.
The acquisitions are setting 2021 up to be a record for media deals, according to data collected by Bloomberg. More than $80 billion in takeovers have been announced so far this year, putting it on track to be the busiest period for the industry since at least 2000, when AOL and Time Warner Inc announced plans to combine, the data show.
MGM has been seen as a takeover target for years, but was never able to close a sale. The company made a fresh push last year, when the Wall Street Journal reported it hired advisers to solicit offers. In seeking a deal, MGM aims to capitalise on the proliferation of streaming services, which has increased demand for large backlogs of content.
It’s also discussed other scenarios with tech giants. MGM, whose library includes the Rocky films and Silence of the Lambs, held talks with Apple Inc and Netflix about taking its new James Bond film directly to streaming. But the company said last year that it’s committed to a theatrical release for the film, which is currently slated for October 8 in the US.
Amazon, meanwhile, is reshuffling its entertainment operations with the return of long-time executive Jeff Blackburn. He briefly left the e-commerce company to join Silicon Valley venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners. But now he’s taking command of Amazon’s entire entertainment division, including the Prime Video streaming
service, Amazon Studios and the video-game-streaming site Twitch.
Talking to chairman
Amazon’s bid for MGM is being handled by video executive Mike Hopkins, according to Variety. He’s dealing directly with MGM Chairman Kevin Ulrich, the publication said.
MGM traces its roots back to the 1920s merger of Marcus Loew’s Metro films with a film company run by Hollywood legend Louis B Mayer. While making great pictures like Dr. Zhivago and 2001: A Space Odyssey, MGM drifted in and out of financial distress in the second half of the 20th century. Over the decades it was owned by Time Inc, CNN founder Ted Turner and more than once by the late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian.
Now, it’s one of the last large movie studios that’s maintained its independence from larger media groups. Time Warner Inc is now part of AT&T, Disney acquired 21st Century Fox, Paramount is owned by ViacomCBS Inc and Universal Pictures is controlled by Comcast Corp.
There’s been speculation before about Amazon acquiring entertainment companies.
It was previously seen as a possible buyer of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, the movie chain, with some investors confusing it with AMC Networks Inc, the owner of cable channels.
Investors suffered a similar sort of confusion on Monday, with the Information report boosting shares of MGM Resorts International, a casino company that isn’t part of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. MGM Resorts stock jumped as much as 5.8 per cent in late trading before quickly retreating.
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