Pathe Communications' oft-delayed $1.36 billion purchase of MGM/UA was completed Thursday in the latest foreign acquisition of a major Hollywood studio.

Ending months of skepticism that the transaction would ever be finalized, the companies said that the new entity would be known as MGM-Pathe Communications Co.Pathe's Italian owner, financier Giancarlo Parretti, 49, who has been the driving force behind the deal, will be chairman and chief executive officer.

The sale all but removes from the Hollywood scene Kirk Kerkorian, who has been MGM/UA's controlling shareholder for two decades and has sold and repurchased the assets of the once-great studio time and again, fueling its decline.

Parretti, calling the deal "historic," said, "Our goal is to make the MGM lion roar again with all the spirit and excitement that implies."

MGM/UA, descendant of what was once a formidable force in Hollywood, becomes the third major studio in recent years to be acquired by a foreign investor, following Twentieth Century Fox (controlled by Rupert Murdoch's Australia-based News Corp.) and Columbia Pictures Entertainment (bought about a year ago by Sony Corp. of Japan for $3.4 billion).

"We will continue to develop the kind of product that has made the MGM and UA names legendary for generations, while building on Pathe's global presence," Parretti said.