MGM/UA Under Kerkorian Meant 20 Years of Change


Since first buying a stake in what was then known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. more than 20 years ago, investor Kirk Kerkorian has taken the studio through a series of financial transactions so bewildering that even he must occasionally be hard-pressed to sort them out. There have been buyouts, buy-ins, split-ups, restructurings, expansions, contractions and a never-ending string of executive changes.

Here are the most notable among them:


July 22--Kerkorian, with holdings in Western Airlines and a pair of Las Vegas casinos, announces tender offer for 17% stake in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., despite opposition of MGM Chairman Edgar Bronfman.


Oct. 14--Raises MGM stake to 37% with a second tender offer, effectively taking control of the studio.

Oct. 21--MGM names ex-CBS program chief James Aubrey as president and chief executive, replacing Bronfman and his regime.

Dec. 12--Aubrey moves corporate headquarters to Culver City from New York.


Jan. 14--MGM announces abortive plan to merge with 20th Century-Fox Film Corp.

Feb. 11--Announces plan to sell off 132 acres of its movie lot for about $20 million.


Jan. 18--Kerkorian boosts his MGM stake to 41.9% with tender offer.

October--Boosts stake to 48% with tender offer.


Sept. 17--MGM unveils plan to slash film production, close its movie distribution unit and concentrate on the soon-to-open MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

Oct. 31--Kerkorian named vice chairman and chief executive, replacing James Aubrey.


Aug. 12--Kerkorian boosts holdings to 50.1% with tender offer.

Sept. 30--MGM announces planned stock swap that would effectively take the company private.

Dec. 11--MGM President Frank E. Rosenfelt named chief executive, succeeding Kerkorian.

Dec. 23--MGM cancels stock swap under Securities and Exchange Commission pressure.


March 29--”Rocky,” nominated for 10 Oscars, wins the Best Picture award after surprise success at the box office, returning the studio to filmmaking profitability and prominence.


Fall--Kerkorian buys 5.5% stake in Columbia.

Nov. 20--Announces plan to launch tender offer for 1.75 million Columbia shares, or 20%, at $24 a share.


Dec. 14--Reaches standstill agreement with Columbia, promising not to boost his stake beyond 25.5% or to seek control for at least three years.


Jan. 15--Justice Department files antitrust suit seeking to block Kerkorian from holding Columbia stake while he also controls MGM.

April 19--Discloses having sold off 297,000 MGM shares to raise cash.

May--Purchases additional 214,400 shares of Columbia, raising stake to 688,000 shares, or 25%.

Aug. 2--Trial opens in Justice Department antitrust suit against Kerkorian.

Aug. 14--Court rules for Kerkorian.

Dec. 18--Ex-Columbia executive David Begelman is named president and chief operating officer of MGM’s film division.


May 30--MGM approves spinoff of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Film Co. as separate company from MGM Grand Hotels Inc., saying the plan will boost film production.

Sept. 30--Kerkorian sues Columbia for ignoring stockholders’ interests and violating an agreement with him.


Oct. 2--Columbia accuses Kerkorian of scheming with Nelson Bunker Hunt to gain control of Columbia.

Nov. 21--Fire at the MGM Grand hotel kills 84 and injures 600.


Feb. 18--Kerkorian sells his 25% stake in Columbia back to the company for $134 million.

May 21--Transamerica approves sale of United Artists to MGM for $380 million.


Feb. 8--Burdened with $675 million in debt from UA acquisition, newly named MGM-UA appoints Kerkorian lawyer Frank Rothman as chairman and chief executive.

April 6--MGM-UA plans to spin off part of its home video unit to public shareholders.

June 22--Sells pre-1950 United Artists films, including “Casablanca” and “The Maltese Falcon,” to Warner Communications for $95 million.

July 12--Begelman resigns after releasing films that cost nearly $200 million to make and market but that returned only about $50 million from the box office.


Feb. 6--Frank Yablans is named vice chairman and chief operating officer of what is now called MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

Dec. 19--In a bid to take company private, Kerkorian offers about $375 million for 49.9% of MGM/UA that he doesn’t own.



Jan. 12--In the face of lawsuits and pressure to offer higher price, Kerkorian withdraws offer to buy rest of MGM/UA.

June 8--Joins Saul P. Steinberg in a tender offer for 49% of Disney at $67.50 a share; also offers to pay $72.50 a share, or $2.75 billion, if Disney drops its deal to buy Gibson Greetings.

June 11--Disney buys out Steinberg, ending the Kerkorian/Steinberg bid.

Dec. 14--MGM/UA announces plan to reacquire the 15% of MGM/UA Home Entertainment it doesn’t own.


Jan. 21--Announces plan to split into separate MGM and United Artists filmmaking units, each with a full slate of movies. Alan Ladd Jr. joins company as vice chairman and president of United Artists.

March 12--Yablans resigns as vice chairman and president of MGM Film unit.

May 27--MGM/UA proxy material discloses that the company is considering a sale of one or both of its film subsidiaries.

June 6--Kerkorian announces offer to buy 30% of MGM Grand Hotels he doesn’t own for $126 million.


July 8--MGM/UA agrees to let Disney use MGM name on a studio theme park in Florida.

July 16--Announces plan to spin off United Artists as a separate, publicly traded company for $500 million.

Aug. 7--Agrees to sell MGM/UA to Turner Broadcasting Systems for $1.5 billion; Turner agrees to resell United Artists unit to Kerkorian for $470 million.

Nov. 11--Jerry Weintraub named chairman and chief executive of United Artists.

Nov. 16--MGM Grand hotels agrees to sell its Las Vegas and Reno hotels to Bally Manufacturing for $440 million.

Nov. 19--Ex-ABC programming chief Tony Thomopoulos named president of United Artists unit.

Dec. 9--Public shareholders agree to buy 14% of United Artists from Kerkorian, even though the Turner transaction is still pending.

Dec. 18--Turner, who still hasn’t completed purchase of MGM/UA, says his talks to resell some MGM assets to Viacom International Inc. have collapsed.


Jan. 13--MGM and Turner restructure their acquisition deal.

March 26--Ted Turner completes purchase of MGM for $1.5 billion.

April 14--Jerry Weintraub resigns as United Artists chairman.

April 28--Ex-Lorimar President Lee Rich named chairman and chief executive of United Artists.


June 8--Lorimar-Telepictures buys the MGM film lot from Turner, while Kerkorian’s United Artists repurchases the MGM name and “Leo the Lion” logo, along with movie and TV production and distribution assets. Turner continues to own the MGM film library, including “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gone With the Wind” and other classics.

July 10--Restructured firm, more than 80% owned by Kerkorian, is named MGM/UA Communications Co.

Oct. 26--After 68 years, MGM vacates its Culver City lot.


April 4--MGM/UA says it has received offers from potential acquirers.

July 9--Agrees to sell 25% of MGM Pictures unit to Burt Sugarman, Peter Guber and Jon Peters.

July 18--Lee Rich resigns as chairman and chief executive, to be replaced by Kerkorian attorney Stephen Silbert.

July 28--Spinoff plan with Sugarman, Guber and Peters fall through.

Sept. 11--Ladd resigns as chairman of MGM Pictures unit.

Sept. 27-- MGM/UA terminates filmmaking at the United Artists unit in a restructuring, leading Thomopoulos to resign.

Oct. 9--Merrill Lynch investment banker Jeffrey Barbakow replaces Silbert as chairman and chief executive.


Nov. 29--Sony confirms that it was among potential acquirers of MGM/UA but backed away because the price was too high.


Jan. 17--MGM/UA announces that it is considering sale of the United Artists unit.

March 29--”Rain Man” wins Best Picture, Actor, Director and Screenplay Oscars, capping a filmmaking hot streak that included “Moonstruck” and “A Fish Called Wanda.”

March 31--Australia-based Qintex, headed by Christopher C. Skase, agrees to buy MGM/UA for $1 billion.

Sept. 13--Rupert Murdoch-controlled companies bid $1.4 billion for MGM/UA, despite the agreement with Qintex.

Sept. 15--Murdoch drops bid after Qintex sweetens offer to $1.5 billion.

Sept. 19--MGM Grand plans a Hollywood theme park in Las Vegas.

Oct. 10--Qintex’s plan to acquire MGM/UA falls apart, and Murdoch refuses to renew bid.

December--MGM/UA reported near a deal to sell to Ted Turner.


Jan. 9--Barbakow tells annual meeting the company is no longer for sale and will concentrate on reviving operations.

March 7--MGM/UA announces deal to be acquired by Pathe Communications for $1 billion.

Compiled by staff writer Michael Cieply and researcher James Cady from Times reports.