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Round One for MGM set for Jan. 15

January 6, 2010 |  1:52 pm

Potential buyers for debt-ridden Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. have a little over a week to "officially" register their interest in acquiring the studio on an imposed deadline of Jan. 15, according to a person close to the process. About 12 suitors, including studios and various financial players have signed nondisclosure agreements enabling them to pore over MGM's confidential financial information before making a bid.

The parties are not required to put actual bids on the table but rather "indications of interest" that show they have the financial wherewithal to move forward with a formal offer.

Among those kicking the tires are Time Warner Inc., parent of Warner Bros., and Lions Gate. News Corp., parent of 20th Century Fox, had also expressed interest but steered clear of signing the NDA.

Several people familiar with the process said it was highly unlikely that MGM would be sold in the next few weeks before the company's next interest payments on its $3.7-billion debt load are due on Jan. 31. In November, MGM's lenders agreed to give the struggling studio a second forbearance after earlier extending a Dec. 15 deadline.

A spokesperson for MGM declined to comment.

-- Claudia Eller