Fox tails ‘Die Hard’

Ever-more-liquid Cinergi close to sale

NEW YORK — Cinergi Pictures Entertainment Inc. is close to finalizing a deal to sell its interest in “Die Hard With a Vengeance” to 20th Century Fox, and has invited public bids on its package of development projects, the company said Tuesday.

In the latest stage of its liquidation, Cinergi revealed that chairman and controlling shareholder Andy Vajna has made a bid of $4.75 million for the indie’s 20 development projects. While Cinergi has asked outsiders to bid on the projects, it requires outside bids to be at least 15% higher than Vajna’s offer.

Cinergi also revealed that Vajna personally will undertake the buyout of public shareholders from the indie, assuming Cinergi completes the sale of its film library to the Walt Disney Co., which was announced earlier this year. Vajna owns just less than half of Cinergi’s outstanding stock.

Cinergi decided to liquidate itself in early April after a yearlong effort to find a buyer bore no fruit. The company agreed to sell its film library to Disney, which had a distribution agreement with the indie, in exchange for cancellation of $38.4 million of production debt.

Vajna’s decision to buy out the public shareholders ensures the buyout will be done relatively quickly but also ensures Vajna’s offer is scrutinized closely by investors who will expect to get as much cash back as possible, several Wall Street traders said Tuesday.

Since Cinergi announced the liquidation in April, the stock has been snapped up by speculators hoping to make money in the final buyout. Cinergi stock jumped 37¢to $1.12 on Tuesday’s news, although some estimates put the final value on Cinergi at closer to $2.50 a share.

Documents filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission on Tuesday detail the negotiations under way between Vajna and Cinergi’s board, revealing for example that Cinergi’s board asked Vajna to raise his offer for the development projects to $5 million but that Vajna rejected the request.

The SEC filing reveals Disney is close to finalizing its purchase of Cinergi’s film library and that an agreement to sell Cinergi’s half-interest in “Die Hard With a Vengeance” to Fox will be finalized “within a week.” Once those two asset sales are done, the other major asset is Cinergi’s special-effects facility in Massachusetts, and the SEC filing says Disney has “expressed some interest” in buying the facility.

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