Starz CFO to Step Down as Lionsgate Merger Plans Finalized

Scott Macdonald is set to leave a combined Lionsgate-Starz in mid-2017.

New details about the post-merger integration plans at Lionsgate and Starz came to light Friday with news that Starz CFO Scott Macdonald plans to step down on May 1, 2017, just as the premium cable network gets set to become a division of the Hollywood studio.

In an internal memo issued to Starz employees, president and CEO Chris Albrecht revealed the leadership structure for the combined entity after Lionsgate completes its acquisition of Starz for $4.4 billion. News of Macdonald's planned departure follows, besides the pending merger with Lionsgate, Starz negotiating a multiyear AT&T/DirecTV renewal and securing digital distribution via the Amazon app.

As announced in September, Albrecht, as president and CEO of Starz's networks, will report to Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer and join the Lionsgate executive management committee. After Deloitte Consulting was brought on board to assist with integration planning, Albrecht on Friday also told employees that Starz chief strategy officer John Penney will take on a new role as executive vp of global business development at Lionsgate, reporting to Lionsgate co-COO Brian Goldsmith, a key dealmaker at the studio.

"Our internal transition teams have been working diligently to ensure a smooth changeover," the Starz boss said in his internal memo that was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. Lionsgate and Starz in a previous SEC filing indicated that operating cost synergies from the proposed merger should reach $50 million and annual cash tax savings will exceed $150 million through fiscal year 2021.

The annual cost savings are expected to come from eliminating jobs and the advantages of scale in production, manufacturing and marketing costs. Elsewhere, Albrecht revealed the Starz Distribution home entertainment division will be folded into Lionsgate's global home entertainment arm, led by Jim Packer and Ron Schwartz, and Lionsgate's worldwide TV and digital distribution operation, also led by Packer.

Albrecht's direct reports will include COO Jeffrey Hirsch, chief legal officer David Weil, president of programming Carmi Zlotnik and executive vp, finance Bill Bergmann. Albrecht added there are no current plans for changes to direct reports to Lionsgate's Feltheimer.

The acquisition of Starz is expected to be completed by the end of the year. No dates have yet been set for special shareholders meetings to vote on the deal.

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