NEW YORK, Nov. 1 -- Metromedia International Group Inc. announced Wednesday its reorganization into a conglomerate composed of several of billionaire John Kluge's holdings, including struggling Orion Pictures. Metromedia International Group has pledged that reorganization will include acquisition and production of new motion pictures at Orion, which was once a major player in Hollywood but is now a shell of itself focused on generating revenues from its library. Mertromedia International Group now encompasses Orion, sporting goods producer Actava Group Inc., film producer MCEG Sterling Inc. and Metromedia International Telecommunications Inc., which has cable and communications operations in Eastern Europe. Metromedia International Group stock was scheduled to begin trading Thursday on the American Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol 'MMG' and with a market capitalization of about $800 million and annual revenues of about $450 million. Under terms of the merger, shares of Orion, MCEG Sterling, MITI and Actava were converted into Metromedia stock. The company will be managed by a three-person Office of the Chairman consisting of Kluge as chairman, longtime Kluge associate Stuart Subotnick as vice chairman and John D. Phillips as president and chief executive officer. 'With this merger, the groundwork is laid for building an international communications, media and entertainment company,' Kluge said. 'The businesses we have built over the years have prepared us for creating what has long been our dream.' Kluge, 81, has a fortune estimated at $6.7 billion, most of it amassed through the acquisition and sale of radio and television stations, cellular phone properties and long-distance phone operations.
He sold a 16 percent stake in WorldCom, the former LDDS Communications, for $933 million in August. Kluge's Metromedia Co. and its general partners, Kluge and Subotnick, own approximately a third of Metromedia International. Los Angeles-based Orion, which released such hits as 'Dances With Wolves,' 'The Silence of the Lambs' and 'Amadeus,' stopped funding film production prior to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1991 following a series of flops at the box office. Since Kluge pulled Orion out of bankruptcy in late 1992 by forgiving debts, the company has been signing distribution deals and releasing the 10 films that it had completed prior to the Chapter 11 filing, none of which have generated commercial success. Orion became a serious participant in Hollywood when it was created in 1979 by a group of top executives who left United Artists as a protest to owner Transamerica Corp.'s policies. Its other hits included 'Platoon,' 'Bull Durham,' 'Throw Mama From the Train' and a number of Woody Allen movies, including 'Hannah and Her Sisters.'