Curtain comes down for debt-laden MGM

ONE of Hollywood's most revered fim studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, yesterday filed for bankruptcy protection after struggling for years to cut its debt.

The filing follows last week's vote by creditors to put founders of Spyglass Entertainment at the company's helm, dealing a blow to Lions Gate Entertainment's merger proposal.

The "pre-packaged" plan would allow MGM's secured lenders including Credit Suisse and JP Morgan Chase to swap more than $4 billion (2.5bn) of debt for most of the equity in a reorganised company.

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MGM controls the James Bond franchise, and has produced or released many of Hollywood's best-known films, including The Wizard of Oz.

In a statement, MGM said it expected a federal bankruptcy judge to approve the restructuring in about 30 days.

Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor and a major MGM debtholder, said he supported the studio's bankruptcy filing.

The company has struggled with debt since 2005 when it was sold in a $2.85 billion leveraged buyout.