Can Lions Gate’s Mad Men ride to the rescue of MGM’s James Bond?

They just might as Mad Men producer Lions Gate is offering to merge with stricken film studio MGM which is about to slide into bankruptcy.

MGM’s most valuable franchise is James Bond but filming of the latest in the never-ending series is suspended while MGM’s fate is decided. At the moment the plans are for the studio, which owns Hollywood’s biggest film library, to go bust in a ‘pre-pack’ administration and then re-emerge following a creditors’ agreement to swap $4bn of debt for equity.

But Lions Gate, also the producer of films The Expendables and Kick-Ass, has offered a deal to merge with MGM that would see Lions Gate shareholders with 45 per cent of the joint equity and MGM creditors with the rest.

Crucial to the deal is Carl Icahn, the veteran ‘activist’ investor who has been tormenting US companies for decades. Icahn has made several unsuccessful bids for Lions Gate. He is also a large holder of MGM debt, picked up at bargain basement prices.

A merger between the two would see Icahn with about 21 per cent of the company and he’s said he supports the deal.

So Mad Men, which doesn’t attract that many viewers but is, nevertheless, one of the most famous TV programmes on earth may play a key role in sustaining the James Bond franchise.

If current Bond British actor Daniel Craig tires of playing (or not) 007 then maybe Jon Hamm, the dashing Don Draper in Mad Men, could step into his hand-made shoes.

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