Ken Schapiro’s move from COO to the new gig — which MGM says is a promotion — likely will fuel the speculation that CEO Gary Barber is inching closer to a decision to take the studio public. Schapiro joined as COO in 2011 and Barber says that he’s “thrilled we will continue to work together moving MGM into its next phase and guiding the strategic direction of the company.” He did not name a replacement for the COO job. In July 2012 MGM filed a draft registration at the SEC for an IPO, but has largely kept mum about the subject since then. “MGM is in a very strong position and we continue to study all of our options,” Barber told debt holders in November. With his extensive background in Hollywood finance, Schapiro has the background to help shape strategy, with or without an IPO. He was involved with “all of the company’s financing transactions,” MGM says, as well as debt restructuring, its recent $75M stock repurchase, investments in new media, and the 2012 divestiture of the company’s overseas channels. He also oversaw MGM’s home video campaign for the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise. Before joining the studio, Schapiro co-founded investment management company Qualia Capital, and was COO of Artisan Entertainment — helping to turn around the video distributor and merge it with Lionsgate.