Lionsgate Closes Deal To Buy Starz


Lionsgate and Starz are now one: The studio just closed the $4.4 billion cash and stock deal, announced in June, to buy the No. 2 premium network company.

“After planning the integration of Lionsgate and Starz for the past five months, we are more excited than ever at the value created by the combination of our two great companies,” Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer and Vice Chairman Michael Burns said in a joint statement.  “Working together, we believe that the strategic opportunities are enormous, and we’re pleased that our shareholders recognize the transformative potential of the transaction.”

Starz was controlled by Liberty Media’s John Malone, who’s also a Lionsgate investor and sits on its board.

The union will leave Lionsgate with a 16,000-title film and television library. Starz had 24.5 million subscription units at the end of September while the Starz Encore Network had 31.5 million.

Starz will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary under Chris Albrecht, who reports to Feltheimer. He also will join Lionsgate’s Executive Management Committee.

The deal splits Lionsgate’s stock into two classes with 79 million voting shares (LGF.A) and 137 million non-voting (LGF.B). The voting shares likely will command higher prices than the non-voting ones; analysts see a spread of anywhere from 3% to 10%.

And, to Wall Street’s relief, the company is less dependent on volatile films. That business has accounted for about 60% of Lionsgate’s operating income, and with Starz drops to about 25%.

Lionsgate shares rallied by 13.6% this week as the Starz deal approached the finish line, and the studio’s La La Land received ecstatic reviews including an unusually high 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Lionsgate expects to be able to cut $50 million in costs from Starz. Since the studio is incorporated in Canada, which has a lower tax rate than the U.S., it also could save $150 million from the premium network company’s outlays.

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