Lions Gate Entertainment completed its merger with ArtisanEntertainment at 1pm today (Dec 15), finalising the creation of the independentgiant that was first made public in October (Screendaily Oct 28).

Former Artisan chief executive officer Amir Malin is leaving topursue other avenues, bringing to an end his six-year association with thecompany.

"This transaction creates a powerful and unique company thatcombines the library assets, diversified business portfolio, product pipelineand home entertainment resources of a major with the agility, entrepreneurialculture and overhead of an indie," Lions Gate chief executive officer JonFeltheimer said in a statement.

"The combined entity is like no other company in the independentmarketplace and this will translate into tremendous opportunity going forward."

"I am very pleased that I am leaving the company in by far itsbest shape, which is reflected in the gratitude of the shareholders," Malintold Screendaily. "I wisheverybody well. I am handing them a lot of great assets."

Malin joined Artisan as president in 1997, rising to chiefexecutive officer in late 2000. During his tenure he reduced the company'soutstanding debt from $262m to $38m.

The combined company now boasts a home entertainment business,television interests, studio facilities in North Vancouver and an enviablelibrary numbering more than 8,000 titles.

It has three awards contenders in circulation: Girl With APearl Earring, Shattered Glass and The Cooler.

Its 2004 slate features the cloning thriller Godsend, starring Robert De Niro and GregKinnear; Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, starring newcomers Romola Garai and Diego Luna; Dogville, starring Nicole Kidman and PaulBettany; the sci-fi thriller Final Cut, starring Robin Williams, Mira Sorvino and Jim Caviezel;Marvel adaptation The Punisher, starring Thomas Jane and John Travolta; and the period drama StageBeauty (formerly CompleatFemale Stage Beauty),which stars Billy Crudup and Claire Danes.

The investment bank JP Morgan provided merger and acquisitionadvice to Lions Gate and Allen & Company and Harris Williams & Companyadvised Artisan.

The law firms of Sheppard,Mullin, Richter & Hampton and Heenan Blaikie advised Lions Gate and theChicago office of Kirkland & Ellis advised Artisan.