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MGM Will Likely Be a June Bride

November 15, 2004 12:00 AM

The antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice-not the Federal Trade Commission-will determine whether Metro Goldwyn Mayer can be acquired for about $5 billion by LOC Acquisition Co., according to sources. LOC is the Delaware corporation formed by Sony Co. of America, Comcast, Texas Pacific Group, DLJ Merchant Partners and Providence Equity Partners of Providence, R.I., which is the apparent leader of the group. Stockholder approval was never in doubt, since two front companies controlled by Kirk Kerkorian agreed in advance to vote their 69 percent interest in MGM for the deal. And regulatory approval will probably be fairly routine, especially with Justice on the case. That department tends to be more subject to political interests, and Mr. Kerkorian was a contributor to President Bush ($2,000 limit) and Republicans (close to $40,000 directly or through PACs) in the recently concluded election cycle. (He also donated to Sen. Kerry.) The deal is expected to close by next June. Meanwhile, Mr. Kerkorian has apparently kept busy. His big investment in MGM Mirage continues to grow, and not just because of the pending $4.8 billion acquisition of Mandalay Resort Group. MGM Mirage, which is holding on to MGM's roaring lion logo, announced last week that it plans to construct a multibillion-dollar "urban metropolis" on the Las Vegas Strip between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo that the Las Vegas Review-Journal called "the most significant privately funded project in the U.S."

-ALEX BEN BLOCK



Pentagon TV

In an effort to get its own brand of military news to U.S. troops wherever they may be, the Department of Defense has launched an effort to recruit cable and satellite TV operators. Allison Barber, the deputy assistant secretary in charge, said the 24/7 military news and information service called Pentagon Channel currently reaches fewer than half of the 2.6 million members of the U.S. military in its target audience at military bases in the United States and abroad. Now the ad-free channel, which was launched earlier this year, is being offered free to cable and satellite TV distributors. Ms. Barber said that as of last week, those committed included Time Warner's Oceanic Cable in Hawaii, GCI Cable's system in Anchorage, Alaska, and Knology cable systems in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. "Our only mission is to get military news and information to our military community," Ms. Barber said. "It's a win-win for [cable operators] serving their customer base and helping their military members."

-DOUG HALONEN



Cable Contender

The inside-the-Washington-Beltway candidate to beat as chief executive at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association last week appeared to be Mitch Rose, 40, VP of government affairs for The Walt Disney Co. Mr. Rose's most obvious qualification is that he served as chief of staff and top telecom policy adviser to Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, before joining Disney in 2000. Next year Sen. Stevens is expected to become chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which is expected to do a major rewrite of the nation's telecommunications law. Torie Clarke, the former NCTA and Pentagon spokeswoman who has also been mentioned as a contender, told Blink last week that she's not interested in the job. "I'm very happy doing what I am doing," said Ms. Clarke, currently a senior adviser to Comcast. "I have a wonderful home with Comcast, and I'd like to stay there." An NCTA spokesman said the search process is still in its initial phases. The winner succeeds NCTA President Robert Sachs, who decided not to re-up after getting the cold shoulder from the NCTA board.

-DOUG HALONEN