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Steven Mnuchin’s Firm Buys Stake in Lionsgate: Is the Ex-Trump Official Plotting a Hollywood Comeback?

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appears to be pursuing a return to the film business.

In a securities filing Tuesday, a fund controlled by Mnuchin disclosed a 5.5 percent stake in Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.’s Class A voting shares. Mnuchin’s fund acquired the stake in the parent company of Lionsgate and Starz on the open market over the past few weeks for about $30.8 million.

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A Lionsgate spokesperson declined to comment. A spokesperson for Mnuchin had not responded to a request for comment, as of writing.

According to the SEC filing, Mnuchin appears to have a particular interest in the plan to spin out its studio assets, which is now set for early 2024 given the ongoing Hollywood strikes. The filing specifically mentions a “potential investment by the Reporting Persons in a spin-off of the Issuer’s studio business.”

“Consistent with the Reporting Persons’ investment purposes, they may engage in communications with, without limitation, one or more stockholders of the Issuer, management of the Issuer and/or one or more members of the Issuer’s board of directors and may make suggestions or proposals concerning the Issuer’s operations, prospects, business and financial strategies, strategic transactions including a potential investment by the Reporting Persons in a spin-off of the Issuer’s studio business or other restructuring, assets and liabilities, business and financing alternatives, the composition of the board of directors and such other matters as the Reporting Persons may deem relevant to their investment in the Issuer,” the filing says.

“The Issuer has publicly proposed a spin-off of its studio business as a separate public company, LG Orion Holdings Inc. (‘SpinCo’),” the filing adds. “The Reporting Persons may engage in any of the activities described above with respect to SpinCo, prior to or following completion of the spin-off.”

The filing is consistent with a potential effort to affect the company’s business lines, including an ask for reviewing strategic options, or even a hostile takeover, though there is no indication that is in the cards just yet. Mnuchin’s fund appears particular interested in the studio business, rather than Starz.

Mnuchin raised $2.5 billion for his new fund in 2021, at the time planning to invest in “new forms of content.”

Mnuchin, a hedge fund manager turned Hollywood financier, has mostly been absent from the entertainment business after being picked by Donald Trump to be Treasury secretary.

Before becoming Treasury secretary, Mnuchin had a major slate financing deal with Warner Bros. as part of his partnership with subsequently disgraced producer-director Brett Ratner and billionaire James Packer, dubbed RatPac-Dune Entertainment. Before that, he was co-chairman of Relativity Media but extricated himself from the studio before it filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Dune also had a long-running slate financing deal with Fox that saw Mnuchin invest in critically acclaimed features like Black Swan and 127 Hours. (Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton, is a writer, director and actress, with her 2019 filmMe You Madness, selling to STX.)

He has backed films like Dunkirk and Wonder Woman, and also picked up a credit on the Snyder Cut of Justice League.

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