Lionsgate Says Studio To Start Split From Starz In April

Lionsgate Vice Chair Michael Burns said the company is set to split in two by year end with a first step in early April as the studio merges with a SPAC and starts to trade separately from Starz on the Nasdaq under the stock symbol LION.

For tax reasons, the parent company will retain 87% of the studio stock at first, along with all of Starz, and the plan is fully separate the studio from Starz by the end of 2024, he told investors at the Morgan Stanley media conference.

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The operation has been pending for some time and is designed to unlock value as the share price hasn’t reflected the full value of all the company’s assets for some time, execs believe. Both companies would also be digestible acquisition targets in a media landscape that’s consolidating — or trying to.

“Ultimately, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do believe that there are very interesting opportunities with Starz in the consolidation of independent channels. And Lionsgate, with the library and TV and film business, will be a very interesting strategic alliance partner — that is euphemistically put — with other players,” Burns said.

Starz has made some big moves like exiting Latin America to focus on the U.S. and Canada. The business is improving and Starz CEO Jeff Hirsch said he expects the network and streamer to benefit as the pace of bundling accelerates as technology improves.

The studio has a large and lucrative library that has a lot of IP to shop — including an animated Twilight series, a John Wick series, The Chosen and others. The studio has strong economics, 10 to 12 releases a year. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes released last fall grossed $166 million domestic and $337 million worldwide.

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