John Malone’s Liberty Global and Discovery Communications, in which Malone has a major stake, have made a strategic investment in Lionsgate.
The investment comes with a commercial agreement that makes Liberty Global and Discovery “preferred partners” to get licensing rights for certain theatrical and television content.
Malone’s Starz already has a relationship with Lionsgate and is a member of the Lionsgate board.
"Lionsgate has created a strong television business and we are proud to take this ownership stake to gain access to terrific storytellers, creative leadership, and global formats and IP, in both nonfiction and scripted programming. As with all of our creative partners, we look forward to telling world-class stories with Jon and the deep management team at Lionsgate, and further strengthening Discovery's content pipeline across our linear and digital platforms around the world,” said David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery.
"I was a very early believer in the value of content, and these new strategic relationships with two of the pre-eminent programming and distribution platforms in the world help position us to take the Company to the next level,” said Mark Rachesky, chairman of Lionsgate.
The deal gives Liberty Global and Discovery each a 3.4% stake in Lionsgate. Each will acquire 5 million shares from funds associated with MHR Fund Management LLC.
Discovery’s Zaslav and Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries will join the Lionsgate board of directors.
A designee of MHR Fund Management, MHR principal and investment committee member Emily Fine, also will join the board. Frank Giustra, who has served a total of 11 years on the board, will step down.