Movie merger! Lionsgate buys Starz for $4.4 billion
Lionsgate, the movie studio famous for the “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” franchises, is buying cable TV network Starz for $ 4.4 billion.
Both stocks initially surged on the news. But shares of Lionsgate () were down 4% toward the end of the trading session Thursday while Starz ( ) was only up about 6%.
The media marriage isn’t a huge surprise.
Many on Wall Street and in Hollywood were expecting it ever since John Malone, the mogul who controls Liberty Media (), Discovery Communications ( ) and numerous other media firms, bought a stake in Lionsgate last year.
Malone also is a big investor in Starz. And through various other entities he owns stakes in Sirius XM (), concert promoter Live Nation ( ), the Atlanta Braves ( ) baseball team and Time Warner ( ), the owner of CNN.
The Lionsgate-Starz combination will immediately become a power player in the world of TV and movies. The two companies touted in the press release that the firm will have a library of 16,000 films and shows and tens of millions of cable subscribers.
“Together, Lionsgate and Starz form an entertainment powerhouse with a world-renowned studio that produces blockbuster movies and channels with must-have programming that will be able to capitalize on content opportunities across multiple platforms,” said Starz chairman Greg Maffei in a statement.
Maffei is also the CEO of Liberty Media and Liberty Interactive, another Malone-controlled company that has stakes in home shopping channels HSN () and QVC ( ) as well as cable giant Charter Communications ( ).
Lionsgate and Starz said they expect the deal to close by the end of the year.