Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Says Birnbaum Steps Down as Co-CEO

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., the movie studio weighing an initial public offering, said Roger Birnbaum stepped down as co-chairman and co-chief executive officer.

Gary Barber will become sole chairman and CEO, the Los Angeles-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. Birnbaum will produce movies exclusively for the studio and will retain offices there.

The move puts Barber clearly in charge as the studio considers an initial public offering, while letting Birnbaum return to producing, which he called his “greatest passion” in the statement. Parent MGM Holdings Inc. said in July that it submitted an IPO registration under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which lets companies with annual sales of less than $1 billion file confidentially with regulators.

MGM Holdings has no specific deadline for completing the stock sale, according to a person with knowlege of its plans.

The company was working to complete its IPO before the next James Bond film, “Skyfall,” opens starting Oct. 26 in Europe and Nov. 9 in the U.S., people familiar with the situation said last month.

The JOBS Act, enacted in April, requires the filings be made public 21 days before starting a road show -- a process usually lasting about two weeks -- and completing a sale. With no public filing by now, the rules suggest any IPO would probably occur after the “Skyfall” debut.

‘Skyfall,’ ‘Hobbit’

MGM put itself up for sale in early 2010 as it struggled under debt from a $5 billion buyout, attracting bids from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and Time Warner Inc., people familiar with the situation said then.

The company later filed for bankruptcy, and Barber and Birnbaum were appointed co-chairmen and co-CEOs in December 2010 when the company emerged. They remain partners in Spyglass Entertainment, which owns a library of films but no longer produces them.

In addition to “Skyfall,” made under a distribution and co-financing partnership with Sony Corp., MGM is partners with Time Warner Inc.’s New Line Cinema on a trilogy of movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, “The Hobbit.” The first title, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” is scheduled to open in theaters on Dec. 14.

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