After more than a year of courtship, Lionsgate and Starz are finally tying the knot.

The two companies announced Thursday morning that Lionsgate would acquire Starz for $4.4 billion in cash and stock. The two companies have been considering merging since February 2015, when Starz’ controlling stakeholder, John Malone, swapped some of his Starz shares in exchange for an ownership stake in Lionsgate and a seat on the board of directors.

After that, two other Malone-controlled companies — Liberty Global and Discovery — also took stakes in Lionsgate, and last February, Lionsgate stated in a financial filing that it was “exploring” acquiring the premium cable network.


Lionsgate ‘Exploring’ Acquisition of Starz

Liberty Global, Discovery Take Stakes in Lionsgate

Malone Swaps Starz Stock for Stake in Lionsgate

The acquisition pairs a studio that produces high-end content, such as Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, with a premium cable network that can be a first stop for global distribution. Starz has made good in-roads in recent years with its original content, including Power, Outlander and Black Sails.

Starz is just beginning to expand its international reach, and has launched its own subscription video on demand (SVOD) service in competition with HBO and Showtime. The entire Starz family includes 17 Starz- and Encore-branded channels.

Under the new corporate structure, Lionsgate plans to invest $1.8 billion annually in new film and TV production, the company said Thursday on a conference call with press and investors.

Earlier this week, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht signed new deal, adding president to his title and taking him through 2020.

RELATED: Chris Albrecht Renews His Starz Deal Through 2020

READ MORE: Variety, The Wall Street Journal, The Hollywood Reporter

[Image courtesy of Starz via Variety]


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