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Lionsgate to Sell Non-Core Assets to Pay Down Debt

Mini-studio eyeing assets sales to strength balance sheet in the wake of a Mexican standoff with activist shareholder Carl Icahn.

TORONTO – Lionsgate Entertainment is searching for non-core assets to sell to pay down debt.

The Vancouver-based mini-studio is looking to ease potential investor worries over its balance sheet, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer signaled Thursday.

“In an industry that’s changing rapidly, with uncertainty about how product will be windowed and priced, we’re rigorously evaluating all areas of our business to determine which assets are generating strong and EBITDA and income,” he told analysts during a morning conference call.

“At the same time, we’re looking at which non-core assets don’t meet that criteria and should be monetized to strengthen our balance sheet, and support investment in higher-growth segments of our business,” Feltheimer added. 

Possible assets sales follow Lionsgate waging a drag-out battle for control of the company with lead shareholder Carl Icahn, a longtime critic of the mini-studio’s senior management and its corporate strategy.

Lionsgate execs also signaled that the mini-studio will invest less money in movie production and P&A costs during the next year and use more third-party financing, as it looks to mitigate risk in a changing industry landscape. 

“We’re taking advantage of the new capital in the marketplace for P&A production deals, and we’ve already brought in investors on a number of our movies already produced or on the horizon,” Feltheimer said.

Lionsgate still intends to swing for the fences from time to time, however.

An example is the Hunger Games trilogy, to be adapted by director Gary Ross from Suzanne Collins’ bestselling teen sci-fi novels.

“We think it’s a monster,” Feltheimer said of the Hunger Games franchise, which targets the same demo as the popular Twilight franchise. The first film in series debuts March 2012.