Lionsgate Re-Ups Vice Chairman Michael Burns And COO Brian Goldsmith With Starz Transaction Looming

As it gets set to reveal plans for the likely separation of Starz and the Lionsgate movie and TV studio, Lionsgate has re-upped two key members of its management team: Vice Chairman Michael Burns and COO Brian Goldsmith.

Burns has extended his contract through October 2024, according to an SEC filing, while Goldsmith has agreed to a new employment agreement running through September 2025.

Burns, like CEO Jon Feltheimer, had a one-year extension written into his prior agreement and Lionsgate’s board of directors exercised that option, the filing said. Feltheimer’s contract was extended last year through 2025. The pair of execs have steered Lionsgate for more than two decades as it has grown via a series of acquisitions and innovative financial deals.

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Goldsmith, a 20-year company veteran, has also factored significantly into the corporate narrative. The new contract guarantees him a base salary of $1.25 million and includes an incentive bonus to be determined by the board, in consultation with Feltheimer.

The exec moves come in the same month when the company has said it plans to finalize plans for separating Starz from the studio, though that timeline is self-imposed. Starz was acquired for $4.4 billion in 2016, just as the premium TV network business was coming under increased pressure from cord-cutting and the rise of direct-to-consumer streaming. Lionsgate reported having 35 million subscribers across linear and streaming at the end of 2022, including Starz and Lionsgate+, the rebranded assets formerly called Starzplay. Lionsgate last November took a $1.48 billion write-down on Starz, citing tough economic and industry conditions.

Since 2021, execs have said they were exploring a spin-off of either Starz or the studio, or potentially a transaction aimed at shoring up financial resources via some other maneuver. A difficult climate for dealmaking in 2022, with soaring inflation and other macroeconomic headaches made any M&A moves extremely difficult to execute. Lionsgate shares also dipped as low as $5.46 a share by the end of 2022. In 2023 to date, though, the stock has nearly doubled — though it remains well off its level in 2021 or throughout most of the prior decade.

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