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Lionsgate Vice Chair On CEO’s Recent Stock Purchase – “I Swear He Bought It Because He Went To The Set” Of Michael Jackson Biopic

Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer recently picked up shares of the company on the open market and vice chair Michael Burns said today he thinks the purchase was spurred by a visit the set of the upcoming Michael Jackson biopic.

“He is pretty fiscally conservative in many ways and so that was actually interesting to see him do it, and I swear he bought it because he went to the set — we are shooting the Michael Jackson movie on the Sony lot – and  he just came back and just said, ‘This thing is going to be incredible’,” Burns said at a Deutsche Bank media conference today.

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According to an SEC filing Monday, Feltheimer acquired 100,000 shares, half each Class A and B shares.

Burns was talking up the studio ahead of an upcoming split with Starz. He confirmed that about 13%-15% of the studio’s equity will move into a SPAC and trade publicly on the NYSE (stock symbol LION). The rest of the studio will be spun into the new company by the end of calendar 2024, creating two pure plays in Lionsgate and Starz. Execs belive Lionsgate stock is undervalued with the two businesses combined. The separation has been in the works for a few years and the stock has perked up as it finally gathers momentum and some positive reviews from Wall Street.

Beyond boosting shareholder value, Burns implied a takeover of either or both is certainly possible when they split.

“I think there are a great number of companies and players and institutions that are interested, probably, in some sort of rollup up strategy with Starz. I think there are a tremendous amount of players that are interested in Lionsgate as a pure play operation – the management business, the library, the feature film business, the way we do it, which is completely different than others, and the television business. I think there are less interested parties [for] both companies combined. So I think it’s going to be interesting year or two. Could be sooner, could be later when everybody says ‘let’s figure out what that strategic alliance looks like.”

He’s skeptical of major media consolidation anytime soon despite rampant speculation surrounding Paramount Global and to a lesser extent Warner Bros. Discovery. Asked how he thinks M&A will play out, Burns said, “Well it depends who has a currency, and who has cash, and who doesn’t hav a very messy balance sheet. So I do think soe of these mergers that have been talked about and the big players? I mean, come on, the Justice Department didn’t approve Simon & Schuster. So I think that’s a bunch of crap.”

“But do I think there are assets that can be moving around between companies? Yeah, I do.”

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