EXCLUSIVE: On September 23rd, I broke the story that MGM made a phone plea to its equity and bond holders to stay alive, that both The Hobbit and James Bond franchises were in peril, that irate bondholders told the studio to go bankrupt, and that MGM called that the worst possible outcome. Well, cooler heads seem to be prevailing — but only for the short term. I’m told MGM may get forbearance until December 15th. There’s no official confirmation yet, and this is a very fluid situation. But that’s not the February 2010 which MGM requested in its conference call with creditors so as to waive interest payments on its $3.5 billion killer debt. Because if MGM doesn’t have to make those interest payments, then the studio can afford to use that money to fund the production slate, including the start of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Loud and upset on that conference call where MGM made a desperate plea for money because the studio had missed its numbers and was going to be out of funds very soon, many bondholders wanted to force MGM into bankruptcy. But then it could lose James Bond and other franchises vital to its financial future. For the bondholders to agree to the forebearance requires a 51% approval vote. As I reported previously, some of the smart people I’ve contacted thought the creditors would eventually realize that a restructuring of MGM outside of the bankruptcy process is probably the best course right now. But December 15th doesn’t seem like nearly enough time.
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