EXCLUSIVE: MGM made a major management re-shuffle this morning as Harry Sloan is pushed aside as CEO but retains his chairman title. Now there’s an “Office Of The CEO” filled by three people: Mary Parent, still chairperson of the worldwide motion picture group; Bedi Singh, CFO and president of finance and administration; and Stephen F Cooper, vice chairman and restructure specialist who’s the partner of Zolfo Cooper. It’s about time: Sloan, who was named to the CEO post in October 2005, was a disaster after inheriting MGM’s killer $3.7B debt and couldn’t tell the truth about how bad the studio’s situation really was. I hear he was naturally upset about being fired as CEO “but has come to terms with his removal”. Meanwhile, MGM’s owners “went and hired one of the best in the world — Stephen Cooper — who’s committed to strengthening MGM’s capital structure and figuring out how this company survives”. Parent and Singh, meanwhile, have kept MGM afloat by making a slate of movies with financial partners. I hear Mary Parent could have had walked out the door with her contract paid off. But she decided to stay and keeo her fingers crossed. “Everyone’s linked arms and we’re full steam ahead,” an MGM insider tells me. “We’ve got a fighting chance.”
UPDATE: Here’s the official announcement:
LOS ANGELES, CA, August 18, 2009 – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (MGM) today announced the formation of the Office of the CEO. Mary Parent, Chairperson for Worldwide Motion Picture Group, and Bedi A. Singh, President, Finance and Administration & Chief Financial Officer, have been named members of the Office of the CEO. Ms. Parent and Mr. Singh are joined by Stephen F. Cooper, who has been appointed Vice Chairman and member of the Office of the CEO. The Office of the CEO will report to the Board of Directors.
MGM also announced that Harry E. Sloan, current Chairman of the Board and CEO, will continue with the company as Chairman.
The Board of Directors said, “Both Mary and Bedi have demonstrated strong leadership during their respective tenures at MGM, and we are confident in their ability to ensure the company continues to aggressively pursue its business objectives. We welcome Steve, who brings unique expertise working with a wide variety of companies to improve their financial position. This leadership team offers MGM the ideal combination of talent to best position the company for the long term: industry experience, management continuity and the addition of a proven professional with expertise in strengthening capital structures. We look forward to working together to maximize MGM’s long-term value.”
The Board continued, “Since he joined MGM in October 2005, Harry has been responsible for substantially growing MGM’s existing businesses and leading its expansion into new areas. He has driven important initiatives such as developing our distribution relationship with Fox, reinvigorating MGM’s movie production efforts, launching Epix together with Viacom and Lions Gate Entertainment, relaunching the United Artists brand with new films, rebuilding MGM’s worldwide television distribution, and building other ancillary growth businesses. We are pleased that Harry will serve as Chairman and that MGM will continue to benefit from his contributions.”
Mr. Sloan said, “We have made important progress building MGM’s operations and executing significant growth initiatives over the last four years. MGM can now draw from the excellent team we have assembled and attract top talent such as Steve Cooper to help lead the company through its next phase. As an investor, I firmly believe that the team will work to bolster MGM’s operational and financial strengths during this challenging macroenvironment.”
Ms. Parent was appointed Chairperson of MGM’s Worldwide Motion Picture Group in March 2008 and has driven MGM’s reinvigorated production efforts. Mr. Singh, who joined MGM in May 2008, has extensive worldwide entertainment industry and financial management experience. In addition to their responsibilities as members of the Office of CEO, Ms. Parent and Mr. Singh will continue to perform the duties expected of them in their current roles.
Mr. Cooper has more than 30 years of experience and a demonstrated track record of working with companies’ key stakeholders to preserve and build value. His primary responsibility as Vice Chairman and member of the Office of the CEO will be to lead MGM’s efforts to evaluate alternatives to improve its balance sheet.
The new leadership team looks forward to completing MGM’s new production slate, which includes the upcoming release of Fame on September 25, as well as The Cabin In The Woods on February 5, 2010; Hot Tub Time Machine on February 26, 2010; Red Dawn on September 24, 2010; The Zookeeper starring Kevin James on October 8, 2010; and Poltergeist on November 24, 2010. The new iteration of the long-running television franchise Stargate Universe launches on the Syfy Channel on October 2. MGM co-owns and will co-produce The Hobbit with executive producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh and New Line Cinema. MGM will also release the next installment of the James Bond series, which will be produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of EON Productions Ltd.