Lions Gate Near Deal to Buy “Twilight” Studio

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF) is near an agreement to buy “Twilight” producer Summit Entertainment LLC for about $700 million including assumed debt, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

An accord may be announced as soon as next week, said two people, who sought anonymity because negotiations aren’t complete. The talks may not end with an agreement, they said.

Lions Gate, the studio behind “Saw” and the Tyler Perry comedies, will pay more than $400 million for Summit’s equity and assume less than $300 million in debt, one of the people said. Summit, based in Santa Monica, California has been negotiating exclusively with Lions Gate for the past week, the people said. The studio also held talks with Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital LLC, which owns the the Miramax film library.

A deal would gives Lions Gate, maker of the “Saw” horror films and the “Mad Men” TV show, the final installment in the “Twilight” vampire movies and library rights to the first four films, which generated $2.45 billion in global ticket sales. Lions Gate would also add Summit’s Oscar-winning war drama “The Hurt Locker” to its library of 13,000 films and TV shows.

Lions Gate and Summit last month resumed talks that broke down in the past over price and control issues.

The combined company will be run by Lions Gate Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer and Vice Chairman Michael Burns, with Summit CEO Rob Friedman running the film unit, one of the people said. Patrick Wachsberger, Summit’s co-chairman with Friedman, would take over international distribution.

Young-Adult Market

“Twilight” fits Lions Gate’s goal of breaking into the lucrative young-adult market. The studio will release the first of four planned films based on Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” trilogy in March. Lions Gate also owns rights to the “Chaos Walking” young-adult books by Patrick Ness.

The acquisition would produces a pay day for the owners of closely held Summit, who formed the studio in 2007 with funding from Merrill Lynch & Co. Last year, the company raised $750 million to finance movie making and pay a dividend to owners including Rizvi Traverse Management LLC. Friedman and Wachsberger also own part of Summit.

Lions Gate, run from Santa Monica, California, fell 0.5 percent to $8.41 yesterday in New York. The company has about $550 million in short- and long-term debt, according to data (LGF) compiled by Bloomberg.

Some of Summit’s cash will be used to pay down its debt and some cash will move with the company to Lions Gate, according to the website Deadline Hollywood, which reported the terms earlier.

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net; Ronald Grover in Los Angeles at rgrover5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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