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Thursday, August 6, 1998 Published at 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK

Business: The Company File

Hollywood Studio looking for partner

MGM's popular properties include the Pink Panther

One of Hollywood's last remaining independent studios is looking for a partner.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studios said on Thursday it was holding informal, preliminary talks with other companies in order to form an "integrated global entertainment company."

MGM also said in a prepared statement it is considering various strategic alternatives.

MGM has been responsible for some of Hollywood's most famous films, from Gone With the Wind to the James Bond series. It's television programmes include Lassie and the Pink Panther.

And it owns a library of 4,000 back titles and 6,700 home videos, which it is releasing on DVD format.

Troubled history

But in the last decade the studio has had a troubled history.

While other studios have gained strength from a merger with larger media groups, like News Corporation's takeover of Twentieth Century Fox, and Sony's purchase of Columbia, MGM has tried to go it alone.

It was purchased in 1993 by Credit Lyonnais, the French state bank following a loan which went wrong. After sinking some $2.5bn into the venture, Credit Lyonnais sold out to a consortium including financier Kirk Kekorian for $1.3bn.

They floated MGM on the stock market in 1997, raising some $230m to help pay down the accumulated $800m of debt.

Global distribution needed

Chairman Frank Mancuso said in his annual report in April that their aim was "to build the premier integrated global content company ... by adding and leveraging our content assets, we will enhance shareholder value and will seek to maximise that value by delivering our content through proprietary distribution around the world."

One of the American television networks might be interested in MGM studios. Due to a change in the law regarding syndication rights, TV companies are now allowed to make their own television series and sell on the rights.

The result has been the combination of Walt Disney and ABC, while Warner Brothers and Fox both have launched their own channels.

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