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Albrecht: Starz ‘believes in consolidation’

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht has said the premium cable operation does “believe in consolidation” after US studio Lionsgate Entertainment earlier confirmed merged talks between the companies.

Albrecht_Chris_MAINAlbrecht declined to directly add colour to Lionsgate’s filing last month, in which Lionsgate said the pair was exploring a “potentially mutually beneficial combination”, but did admit that M&A was an option for Starz.

“We believe in consolidation and are open-minded about the best ways to create both shareholder and strategic value for ourselves and any possible business partner,” he told analysts on an investors’ call.

“However, we only believe in the potential combination for Starz that fully appreciates the value of our business and provides an appropriate return to our shareholders.

“While we believe recent stock market volatility left our stock meaningfully undervalued, at an approximate 30% discount to our media peers and which has led to our increased buybacks, the fundamentals of our business have not changed.”

Starz, based in the US, offers premium series such as Power, Black Sails and the upcoming American Gods, to US subscribers, and last year launched SVOD player Starz Play in the Middle Eastern region. It also operates the Epix channel.

Rumours over its future have swirled since it was spun out of John Malone’s Liberty Media in 2013. It has been linked to CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox. However, with cable mogul Malone becoming increasingly influential at Lionsgate after taking a seat on its board, a merger of these two companies has become the preferred option.

Both companies’ stock fell after the Lionsgate announcement, and Deadline later reported talks had stalled. Previous attempts to merge the companies also failed.

The status of the current talks remains unclear.