MGM COO Talks New Studio Leadership, Remains Silent on CEO Ouster

MGM Tower - Century City - Getty 2 -H 2018
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"We are all energized and focused in executing on our priority growth initiatives,” newly installed COO Chris Brearton told analysts.

MGM on Wednesday remained silent on its recent leadership shake-up that saw Gary Barber leave the Hollywood studio as CEO and chairman of MGM.

"We are eager to focus today’s call on our strong year-end results. We will not be addressing questions about Gary's departure," newly installed COO Chris Brearton told analysts during a conference call that followed the release of the studio's year-end results.

Brearton added that MGM would move forward with a management team led by an unspecified senior leadership team, as he revealed "we are running the company with a group of senior leaders and division heads through a newly created Office of the CEO."

Brearton added the MGM board of directors had "empowered" the senior leadership team to partner and drive "greater collaboration across the company." The exec said that the studio had reached out to its business partners and reported back that "MGM's commercial relationships remain strong.”

Breaton and senior executives at the same time provided no explanation for Barber's ouster after he guided MGM's comeback in recent years. Barber arrived at the company in 2010 after the once-storied studio emerged from bankruptcy.

In October, Barber re-upped with MGM and extended his contract for five years, through December 2022, making his exit a surprise for Hollywood.

"We are all energized and focused in executing on our priority growth initiatives,” Brearton told analysts. For the year to Dec. 31, 2017, MGM Holdings reported overall revenues rising 10 percent to $1.3 billion, with business growth driven by the acquisition of Epix and MGM's TV content business, which includes production of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale.

Adjusted earnings for fiscal 2017 were up 5 percent to $422.9 million, compared to a year-earlier $401.1 million. Full-year net income rose sharply to $549 million, as the studio gained from the recent overhaul of the U.S. corporate tax system.