After a brief but nasty exchange of lawsuits, Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. and shareholder Kirk Kerkorian, the Las Vegas financer, agreed yesterday to settle their differences.
Columbia said it will acquire Kerkorian's 2.44 million shares of the company's stock for about $55 a share.
Kerkorian acquired the stock in 1979 for an average price of about $25 a share.
"From my point of view, it's a victory for both sides," said Francis T. Vincent Jr., president of New York-based Columbia Pictures. "The litigation was enormously expensive, and it was draining on the company and its people."
In Los Angeles, publicity-shy Kerkorian's attorney and chief spokesman, Stephen D. Silbert, said his client was satisfied with the settlement terms. s
The litigation was triggered last year when Kerkorian threatened to increase his 24 percent interest in Columbia Pictures. The financier argued that an agreement he signed limiting him to 25 1/2 percent of Columbia's common stock was invalid because management was trying to keep him out of the company to the detriment of other shareholders.
Kerkorian sued, and Columbia countersued. The litigation, which was settled yesterday, was scheduled to go to trial on April 6 at U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
At the time Kerkorian filed suit against Columbia Pictures, long-time Kerkorian watchers figured that the compulsively private financier would not allow himself to be subjected to probing pretrial interviews by the company's attorneys.
Many figured that Kerkorian was using the threat of acquiring more stock as a lever to force the management of Columbia Pictures to come up with an attractive price for his stock -- which, in fact, is what the film company did.