Lionsgate is making its argument for a merger with hobbled studio MGM, a move that is supported by Carl Icahn, who has been trying to take over  the mini-major while simultaneously buying up MGM debt. The timing is meant to provide an option for the current restructuring plan that will be voted on by MGM lenders this month. That plan would revive the Lion most likely as a production entity without distribution and marketing, headed by Spyglass chiefs Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber. I’ve always thought the plan before creditors right now is an interim step, and that an alignment between the Lion and Lionsgate, or a studio like Warner Bros will happen down the road regardless, once the studio gets moving again on The Hobbit and James Bond. Here is Lionsgate’s release:

SANTA MONICA, CA, and VANCOUVER, BC, October 13, 2010 — Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) (“the Company”), the leading next generation studio, today emphasized the value creation potential of its proposed merger combination with Metro−Goldwyn−Mayer Studios Inc. (“MGM”). The Company filed an Amendment to Schedule 14D-9 with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday disclosing that it sent an October 11 proposal to MGM regarding a potential business combination between the two companies. Under the terms of the proposal, the combined company would be owned by shareholders of Lionsgate and creditors of MGM.

“This is a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to create a dynamic, forward-looking studio that unlocks tremendous potential value for Lionsgate’s shareholders and MGM’s various stakeholders,” said Lionsgate Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer and Vice Chairman Michael Burns. “A Lionsgate merger with MGM is a natural fit that would bring together two of the most powerful libraries in the world, create significant cost savings, consolidate our mutual global channel operations and generate significant incremental revenue and cash flow. It would create a combined entity with enough scale to leverage all of our distribution platforms worldwide.”

Lionsgate noted that it believes that its three largest shareholders, Carl Icahn, MHR Fund Management and Capital Research Global Investors, support the merger proposal.