Rosenberg, who made hundreds of millions of dollars in the Chicago real estate market, is believed to have at least one real estate partner prepared to join him in the bid. Otherwise he wants to make the run solo, rather than with a big partner.
Lakeshore, which now has a production deal with Paramount Pictures, is believed to be interested in all of Polygram, including its 1,500-title catalog and international distribution system. Lakeshore could not be reached for comment.
Lakeshore’s interest puts it in a class of its own among domestic film companies, most of whom have shown no interest at all in PFE, Wall Streeters said. With a couple of weeks remaining before information booklets go out on PFE, the only companies known to be looking are European media companies like Canal Plus in France.
Interest has been so soft that Seagram Co. CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. has told associates in the past couple of weeks that he is willing to accept $750 million for PFE, about $250 million below what Seagram was hoping to get for the company. PFE is being sold as a result of Seagram’s $10.2 billion acquisition of music giant Polygram Holdings.
Some people close to the situation said Lakeshore would have a tough time competing with the likes of Canal Plus, whose chairman Pierre Lescure expressed interest several weeks ago in a joint bid for PFE. Lescure subsequently backed off somewhat, however, claiming the billion-dollar price was too high.
Most U.S. film companies believe PFE is worth only about $500 million. While some Hollywood majors may be interested in buying PFE’s library, they would offer significantly less than $500 million for the catalog because their interest is only in major titles, Wall Streeters said.
The keenest bidder is PFE chairman Michael Kuhn, who wants to put together backers for a management buyout. Kuhn may not welcome Lakeshore, as Rosenberg would likely want to run the company.
The big question is whether Rosenberg has the financial resources to undertake such a deal on his own. Assuming PFE was sold for $750 million, Lakeshore would have to find about $375 million in equity as banks would likely lend only about half the purchase price.
Rosenberg’s partners include Ted Tannebaum, who has an interest in Lakeshore, and Chicago real estate investor Terry McKay, sources said.
Lakeshore Entertainment has a 15-pic, five-year deal with Paramount Pictures for films in the $15 million to $30 million range. Paramount distributes all the films in North America, while Lakeshore handles international.
The company recently produced the indie Tim Robbins thriller “Arlington Road” and picked up the British comedy “Miss Monday” for distribution overseas. Lakeshore also recently set up “The Next Best Thing” with Madonna and Rupert Everett attached to star.