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Amazon in talks to buy James Bond studio MGM

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Daniel Craid in the upcoming Bond film No Time To Die - PA
Daniel Craid in the upcoming Bond film No Time To Die - PA

Amazon is in talks to buy the MGM movie studio in what would be its biggest push into entertainment yet, according to reports.

MGM, the Hollywood company behind the James Bond series, would help bolster Amazon’s Prime streaming service. It is weeks into negotiations to buy the studio for about $9bn (£6.4bn), Variety reported. MGM and Amazon declined to comment.

MGM has been regarded as a takeover target for years but no deal has ever been sealed. The company made a fresh push last year, when it reportedly hired advisers to solicit offers.

The studio aims to capitalise on the proliferation of streaming services, which has increased demand for content libraries and has also discussed other scenarios with tech giants.

MGM, whose library includes the Rocky films and The Silence of the Lambs, also held talks with Apple and Netflix about taking its new James Bond film directly to streaming. But the company said last year that it’s committed to a theatrical release for the film, which is currently slated for October 8 in the US.

Amazon, meanwhile, is reshuffling its entertainment operations with the return of long-time executive Jeff Blackburn. He briefly left the e-commerce company to join Silicon Valley venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners. He will take command of Amazon’s entire entertainment division, including the Prime Video streaming service, Amazon Studios and the videogame streaming site Twitch.

MGM traces its roots back to the 1920s merger of Marcus Loew’s Metro films with a film company run by Hollywood legend Louis Mayer. While making great pictures like Dr Zhivago and 2001: A Space Odyssey, MGM drifted in and out of financial distress in the second half of the 20th century. Over the decades it was owned by Time, CNN founder Ted Turner and more than once by the late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian.

Amazon has been rumoured to buy entertainment companies before. It was previously touted as a possible buyer of cinema chain AMC, with some investors confusing it with AMC Networks, the owner of cable TV channels.

Investors suffered a similar sort of confusion on Monday, with The Information report boosting shares of MGM Resorts International, the casino operator. MGM Resorts shares jumped almost 6pc in late trading before quickly retreating.