It looks like events are coming to a head on the troubled pre-production of The Hobbit, with a big announcement mooted in the near future. Ian McKellen has reported that he can no longer put off other projects and will have to resume working unless the project begins soon, whilst Peter Jackson's negotiations to direct seem to be dependent on filming beginning before the end of this year. However, whilst New Line and Warner Brothers are keen to press forwards, MGM (the primary rights-holder on the project) remains in limbo due to ongoing legal action and the company's near-inevitable bankruptcy and collapse.
Until MGM's money worries are resolved soon - and that appears very unlikely - The Hobbit cannot proceed. Warner Brothers and New Line may have to investigate other options, such as outright buying the rights from MGM before they go under, but this would be very expensive, and it may be that whilst MGM still exist they may want to hold onto the possibility of getting a cut out of the project (although given their debts, such a cut would be a drop in the ocean compared to the $4 billion they'd need to survive). Some sort of formal announcement that the project is being shelved indefinitely, as has already happened with the James Bond franchise, would thus appear inevitable unless things change soon on the project.