Sony Corporation and a group of financial partners have agreed to buy Hollywood's last major independent film studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in a deal worth almost $5 billion (€4bn; £2.8bn).

Sony's last-minute bid of $12 a share in cash -- representing a payment of $3bn -- and the assumption of $1.9bn debt caused US media group Time Warner to withdraw its $11 a share offer from the race. This allows the Japanese electronics giant to provisionally clinch the deal, backed by Texas Pacific Group and Providence Equity Partners.

A recent deal between Sony and private equity firm DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and a separate agreement between Sony and Comcast Corporation provided additional funding for Sony to knock out competition in the MGM bidding war by raising its offer by 75 cents a share.

Under the Comcast deal, Sony will license movies to the cable company, which will be distributed through Comcast's video-on-demand platform.

And the choice of movies is now a vast one. MGM's film library carries more than 4,000 titles including classics such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind and the James Bond series.

Adding to its own considerable film collection, the Sony-led group of companies will now have control of nearly half of all colour movies ever made -- a lucrative source of revenue as more films are re-released on DVD. It also provides fuel for the company's drive to create better synergies between its content and electronics businesses.

MGM management is expected to recommend the proposed merger to its board by September 27.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff