NEW YORK - Film and TV studio Lions Gate is buying cable channel operator Starz in a deal worth $4.4 billion.
Lions Gate (LGF) is the company behind "The Hunger Games" movies and the "Orange Is The New Black" TV series. Englewood, Colorado-based Starz (STRZA) runs its namesake cable channel, as well as Starz Encore and MoviePlex. Together, Lions Gate said it can tap its library of movies and TV shows and air them through Starz's channels.
The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
Lions Gate said Thursday that it will pay holders of Starz Series A stock $18 in cash and 0.6784 of a Lions Gate share. Starz Series B stockholders will receive $7.26 in cash and 1.2642 of Lions Gate stock.
Santa Monica, California-based Lions Gate is not new to the cable business, owning stakes in the Epix and Pop channels. Starz, besides its channels, also owns Anchor Bay Entertainment, which distributes movies on DVDs.
Shares of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. rose $1.84, or 8.8 percent to $22.78 in morning trading while Starz's Series A stock jumped 3.56, or 12.6 percent, to $31.81.