MGM shareholders on Dec. 17 approved the takeover proposal of $12 per share offered in September by Sony Corp. and its investment partners.

(The Hollywood Reporter) -- MGM shareholders on Dec. 17 approved the takeover proposal of $12 per share offered in September by Sony Corp. and its investment partners.

About 130 people, roughly half of them MGM employees, attended the 10-minute meeting in a small theater in the MGM tower lobby. Among the attendees were board members Frank Mancuso, who headed MGM in the 1990s, and Priscilla Presley.

There was little doubt the deal would be overwhelmingly approved because Kirk Kerkorian, who owns 73% of MGM's shares either directly or through holding companies, had already agreed to the pact. Still, a chuckle rose from the audience when senior executive VP/secretary Bill Jones announced the preliminary results: 99.8% of the shares were voted in favor of the deal.

CEO Alex Yemenidjian and COO Chris McGurk, both of whom arrived at MGM in April 1999, took the opportunity to thank the company's employees for their hard work over the past several years. Yemenidjian particularly thanked McGurk for "sometimes tolerating, sometimes agreeing with" his decisions, as both men smiled.

Yemenidjian said "it is our understanding" that Sony and its partners "intend to continue to operate MGM as a separate entity." He said he was pleased that MGM should continue to be a "vibrant, creative" company based in Los Angeles. Completion of the deal still awaits approval by the European Commission and final funding.

Asked his feelings on the agreement to sell MGM, Yemenidjian called the moment "bittersweet" because, he said, he and McGurk would have preferred to win the bidding for Vivendi Universal last year, allowing MGM to become bigger and compete more effectively with such media behemoths as Time Warner and the Walt Disney Co.