Kerkorian wins battle for MGM

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The Independent Online
PolyGram, the Dutch entertainment giant, yesterday expressed frustration that it had lost out in the drawn-out auction for MGM, the Hollywood studio, which was sold for $1.3bn (pounds 840m) to billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and a management group led by chief executive Frank Mancuso.

"We bid a fair and equitable price," a spokesman said yesterday. "We will continue to look for opportunities."

PolyGram, which had competed against Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and Hollywood producer Morgan Creek to buy the troubled studio, believed it had been on the inside track until the last moment, when Mr Kerkorian made a dramatic eleventh-hour move to back the management bid.

PolyGram, which had been prepared to spend $1.1bn, now intends to continue its search for a fully operational distribution network in the US, to build on its small Gramercy operation and to improve prospects for its extensive line-up of films.

The sale of the MGM studio, the last act in Credit Lyonnais' disastrous foray into financing Hollywood acquisitions, will see Mr Kerkorian become an owner for the third time. He sold the studio to Ted Turner, the Atlanta- based owner of Cable News Network, and then bought back all but the film library a year later. The studio was then sold to the Italian financier Giancarlo Paretti in 1990, and seized by Credit Lyonnais in 1992.

Since then, MGM has recovered impressively, and was responsible for such recent hits as the James Bond vehicle Goldeneye, The Birdcage and Get Shorty.