Amazon in talks to buy MGM

Amazon.com Inc. is in discussions to acquire the nearly century-old Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio in what would be its biggest push into entertainment yet, according to news reports.

MGM, the storied Hollywood company behind the James Bond series, would help bolster Amazon’s Prime streaming service, the Information and Variety said in separate reports. Amazon is weeks into negotiations to buy the studio for about $9 billion, according to Variety.

MGM and Amazon declined to comment on the report.

MGM has been seen as a takeover target for years, but was never able to close a sale. The company made a fresh push last year, when it reportedly hired advisers to solicit offers. In seeking a deal, MGM aims to capitalize on the proliferation of streaming services, which has increased demand for large backlogs of content.

It’s also discussed other scenarios with tech giants. MGM, whose library includes the “Rocky” films and “Silence of the Lambs,” also held talks with Apple Inc. and Netflix Inc. about taking its new James Bond film directly to streaming. But the company said last year that it’s committed to a theatrical release for the film, which is currently slated for Oct. 8 in the U.S.

Amazon, meanwhile, is reshuffling its entertainment operations with the return of long-time executive Jeff Blackburn. He briefly left the e-commerce company to join Silicon Valley venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners. But now he’s taking command of Amazon’s entire entertainment division, including the Prime Video streaming service, Amazon Studios and the video-game-streaming site Twitch.

Talking to Chairman

Amazon’s bid for MGM is being handled by video executive Mike Hopkins, according to Variety. He’s dealing directly with MGM Chairman Kevin Ulrich, the publication said.

MGM traces its roots back to the 1920s merger of Marcus Loew’s Metro films with a film company run by Hollywood legend Louis B. Mayer. While making great pictures like “Dr. Zhivago” and “2001: A Space Odyssey,” MGM drifted in and out of financial distress in the second half of the 20th century. Over the decades it was owned by Time Inc., CNN founder Ted Turner and more than once by the late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian.

There’s been speculation before about Amazon acquiring entertainment companies. It was previously seen as a possible buyer of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the movie chain, with some investors confusing it with AMC Networks Inc., the owner of cable channels.

Investors suffered a similar sort of confusion on Monday, with the Information report boosting shares of MGM Resorts International, a casino company that isn’t part of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. MGM Resorts stock jumped as much as 5.8% in late trading before quickly retreating.

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Amazon in talks to buy MGM