MGM in Talks to Acquire Epix Outright From Lionsgate, Viacom

'Casino Royale'

The James Bond franchise studio aims to buy the remainder of the premium channel from its joint venture partners to bolster its TV business.

MGM Holdings, parent of the Hollywood studio behind the James Bond film franchise, is in talks to to acquire Epix from fellow shareholders Lionsgate and Viacom, The Hollywood Reporter has learned from sources close to the negotiations.

A deal, thought to be announced as early as next week, hinges on an overall valuation for Epix, thought to be in the $1 billion-$2 billion range. Reuters first reported Thursday on talks by MGM to buy Epix from its joint venture partners.

The talks over Epix are no surprise as Lionsgate in late January signaled it wished to sell its 31.2 percent holding in the premium channel in the wake of its merger with Starz. The deal for Starz, first unveiled in June 2016, put an immediate question mark over Epix.

Viacom, which holds a separate 50 percent stake in Epix, also stirred speculation on Wall Street over the future of Epix when it recently explored recombination with CBS. Epix recently saw Mark Greenberg, president and CEO, extend his employment agreement with the premium entertainment network.

Epix has a content foundation from its joint venture partners’ first-run movie franchises, including The Hunger Games, Mission: Impossible, Star Trek and the Bond pics. Now it is building up its TV business with the original scripted series Graves, a half-hour political satire produced with Lionsgate TV, and Berlin Station, a contemporary spy-thriller from Paramount TV and Anonymous Content.

The acquisition of Epix is thought to help bolster MGM's TV business, which is run by Mark Burnett, the reality TV pioneer behind such hits as Survivor, The Apprentice, Shark Tank and The Voice and the driving force — along with his wife, Roma Downey — behind the miniseries The Bible and other faith-based programming.

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