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Report: Lionsgate restarts Starz talks

John Malone

John Malone

Lionsgate Entertainment is reportedly back in talks to buy US premium cable channel Starz.

The pair was previously linked in late-2014, and came closer together last year when Starz’s main shareholder, John Malone, bought 3.4% of Lionsgate through his Liberty Global cable group.

Bloomberg has now reported that talks over Lionsgate acquiring the Outlander network have restarted.

Citing an unnamed person familiar with negotiations, Bloomberg reported talks were at “any early stage and may not result in a deal”.

Lionsgate reports its latest financial quarter results today, with the Starz acquisition expected to be a key topic of questioning in the following investors’ call.

According to Bloomberg, Lionsgate had nearly acquired Starz during the 2014 talks, but pulled out over valuation and tax concerns.

Starz spun out of Liberty Media in 2013, and Bloomberg’s sources suggested Malone had planned to keep it independently-listed for three years.

He is now reportedly keen to merge with Lionsgate, which is subject to Canadian taxes lower than those imposed in the US.

Malone engineered a prior transaction that saw Starz and Lionsgate equity swap last year, with Starz handing over 4,5% of its stake in exchange for 3.4% of Lionsgate’s outstanding shares.

AMC Networks, 21st Century Fox and CBS Corp. have also been linked with a takeover of Starz since it became an indie, but none of these have launched formal takeover bids.

Both Starz and Lionsgate’s stock prices were up upon news of Bloomberg’s report.