NEW YORK — James Bond seems set to live another day after debt-ridden film giant MGM secured a deal to end months of financial deadlock, which put the latest 007 movie on ice along with the studio’s fate. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, whose catalogue includes the Bond franchise as well as the “Pink Panther” and “Rocky” series, announced a debt-restructuring rescue deal late Friday while rejecting an offer from billionaire Carl Icahn. In a statement the legendary studio — famous for its trademark roaring lion logo — said its lenders had “overwhelmingly approved its proposed plan of reorganization” with U.S. firm Spyglass Entertainment. Spyglass was favored over a rival offer by Icahn, who reportedly owns about US$800 million of MGM’s debt, to merge the studio with film producer Lionsgate in which he is the largest shareholder.
“MGM will now move expeditiously to implement that plan, which will dramatically reduce its debt load and put the company in a strong position to execute its business strategy. “MGM is appreciative of the lenders’ support,” said the MGM statement. The studio, with a 4,000-strong back catalogue that also includes “The Wizard of Oz” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” has been struggling for the last few years, and its owners put it up for sale a year ago. Several candidates emerged, including U.S.-Canadian studio Lionsgate, as well as America’s Liberty Media, Australian-born U.S. media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and India’s Reliance Entertainment. If the plan announced late Friday is approved, MGM is expected to emerge from bankruptcy with 95 percent of its capital in the hands of creditors led by U.S. bank JPMorgan Chase. The remaining five percent would be held by Spyglass, which notably produced Clint Eastwood’s last film “Invictus”. In April, uncertainty over the debt-ridden studio’s future forced the suspension of work on the latest James Bond movie, the 23rd in the long-running franchise. The British production company behind the project said they had put work on hold “indefinitely” after MGM failed to attract a buyer. There was no immediate word on when filming could resume.