Lionsgate and Starz are back in the headlines with the LA Times reporting Monday that the two are in “advanced talks to merge.”

Earlier this year, billionaire media investor John Malone, acquired a 3% interest in Lionsgate, making him the largest voting shareholder. Malone, considered the godfather of the cable industry, runs Denver-based Liberty Media Corp., which operates like a media-focused equity fund. Other ventures owned by Liberty Media include Sirius XM, the Atlanta Braves baseball team and minority stakes in Live Nation and Charter Communications. Liberty Media spun off Starz nearly three years ago, with analysts at the time predicting that was in preparation for a sale.

Even though the Times reports that “high-level talks” have been held for several months, a deal still may not come to pass. Both companies have relationships with other partners — such as Lionsgate’s with Viacom and MGM for pay network Epix — and those partners would have to weigh in on certain aspects. Epic competes with Starz but the partners may not want to merge the two should the deal go through. The Times also says that the valuation of the two companies could be an issue, with Lionsgate valued at $5.7 billion and Starz at $4 billion.

Starz, a publicly traded company, has been shopping itself to buyers on and off for the past three years, although some suitors have been put off by the high price. Over the summer, rumors sprung up that the company was in talks with AMC Networks, but that deal also hasn’t come to fruition. In the past, both 21st Century Fox and CBS are said to have kicked the tires.

Read more: The Los Angeles Times

Brief Take: it’s looking like a matter of time for Starz to get acquired or merge, with Malone taking his time to properly set up the chess board.

Cube image courtesy of The Los Angeles Times


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