For the record: Starz moved a step closer to merging with Lionsgate today as the premium network company’s shareholders voted overwhelmingly to support the agreement to sell itself to the studio for $4.4 billion cash and stock.
Nearly 95% of the shares that voted, about 142 million, favored the deal. Owners of nearly 9.6 million shares abstained. About 98% of the votes cast also approved a non-binding proposal to support compensation agreements for Starz executives.
The outcome was not in doubt. Liberty Media’s John Malone controls about 48.3% of Starz’s voting shares, and Lionsgate has 15.1%.
The merger still would have gone through if shareholders opposed the compensation agreements. They provide for Starz CEO Chris Albrecht to collect $27.47 million, including $6.75 million in cash and $20.68 million in equity.
In his most recent quarterly earnings call with analysts, in October, Albrecht joked that with the closing of the Lionsgate deal in sight, “hopefully, we won’t be talking again.”