Lions Gate closed sharply higher today (LGF.A +14.7%, LGF.B +12.5%) after The Information’s report that CBS made an informal offer for the Starz cable operation that was rebuffed.
The studio reportedly rejected that offer of about $5B on valuation, but the sides may not be as far apart as it seems: Reuters reports Lions Gate turned around and offered the sale for $5.5B.
Lions Gate had bought Starz for $4.4B in cash and stock in 2016.
CBS interim CEO Joe Ianniello made the informal offer about six weeks ago but was turned away, according to reports.
Adding Starz would (along with Showtime) give CBS two of the key three premium cable networks, and a better chance at competing with clear leader HBO (NYSE:T).
CBS has a board meeting in 12 days at which it will be reviewing strategic options, almost certainly including talks about re-merging with Viacom (VIA, VIAB).