Lions Gate Entertainment nears deal to buy Starz: Reuters

(Reuters) — Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, the film studio behind the Hunger Games movie franchise, is in advanced talks to buy premium television network Starz, in a deal that would unite two media companies with ties to cable mogul John Malone, according to a source familiar with the matter.

A deal could be announced as soon as Thursday, the source said, asking not to be named because the matter is private.

Lions Gate is planning to pay more than $30 per share in cash and stock for Starz, the person said, adding that a transaction has not been finalized and talks could still fall apart.

Lions Gate and Starz could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

The two companies had held on and off talks for more than a year. Starz was spun off from Malone’s Liberty Media Corp in 2013.

Since then there have been reports the company has been in merger talks with a range of media companies, from Twenty-First Century Fox to CBS Corp and AMC Networks Inc.

Starz, which competes with HBO and Showtime, also develops original programming such as “Power,” a drama about a New York City drug dealer and “Outlander,” a fantasy series.

Lions Gate and Malone own shares in Starz, while Malone is also a Lions Gate shareholder who sits on its board.
Bloomberg reported earlier on Wednesday that a deal was imminent.