Thursday, October 27, 2005

SBS's Sloan pops up at MGM

Veteran media exec Harry Evans Sloan, who last week completed the sale of SBS Broadcasting for about $2.6bn to private equity firms Permira and KKR, has popped up at MGM.Sloan has been named chairman and chief executive of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Sloan has served on MGM's board since June.Providence Equity Partners, one of MGM's biggest equity investors along with Texas Pacific Group and media companies Sony Corp and Comcast, have had a long-standing relationship with Sloan and approached him about assuming the MGM chairmanship shortly after the SBS sale was announced in August.Sloan, who is making a "substantial investment" in MGM, could, through potential stock option earnings, end up with as much as a 5% interest in the company.Last year, MGM was purchased for nearly $5bn and, although technically an independent company, operates as a label of Sony Pictures, which now releases MGM's movies in theatres and on DVD. MGM executives, however, oversee the licensing of the company's library of 4,000 films and 10,000 TV episodes.Over the past two decades, Sloan invested in and helped build three publicly traded media companies: Lions Gate Entertainment; New World Entertainment, which he bought from director Roger Corman in 1983 and sold six years later to investor Ronald Perelman; and European media company SBS Broadcasting, which he founded in 1990.In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Sloan said he planned to return MGM to its former status as one of Hollywood's major movie suppliers by tapping his expertise in independent film financing and enlisting the kind of low- to moderate-budget movie strategy that he applied at Lions Gate and New World."MGM is the best movie brand in the world," he said. "In five years, there will be 400m new digital homes in the world, and given my experience internationally, I think MGM is the perfect asset to develop to that end."

Kris Sofley 27 Oct 2005 © C21 Media 2005

Sloan has been a very successfull and powerfull man in media, with a very sharp insight in where to go to next. His move away from the Broadcast Channels in favour of the pure content industry may very well signify an upcoming devaluation of Broadcast Channels in general.