The Walt Disney Company
Earning two engineering degrees prior to a Harvard MBA, Disney’s exec VP of corporate strategy found an oddly appropriate industry outsider offering to buy Disney’s Miramax division in civil engineering magnate Ronald Tutor of Tutor-Saliba and Tutor Perini construction companies. The closest Tutor had come to Hollywood was tunneling under it, building the Metro Rail.
KEY DEALS: According to sources, Disney agreed to sell Miramax to Tutor’s group – including the rights to 700 film titles, 600 development projects and more than $300 million in receivables – for $663 million. That eclipsed the offer made by Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who sold the independent studio to Disney in 1993 for $80 million, but in earlier negotiations estimated Miramax’s current value at $400-500 million. The alliance of new owners includes Filmyard Holdings, Colony Capital and its chairman Tom Barrack and ex-Disney CFO Richard Nanula, instrumental to brokering the deal with Mayer on Disney’s end. Actors Rob Lowe and Arnold Schwarzenegger were rumored to be investors. The sale leaves Disney touting the Pixar and Marvel studios brands.
Disney Interactive Media Group
The co-president of Disney Interactive Media Group and g.m. of the social gaming company Playdom joined Disney following sale of Playdom to the Mouse House. His past includes stints at Electronic Arts, Revolution Health and Ticketmaster, where he was CEO. At Playdom, Pleasants developed youth-oriented games — including Sorority Life, Social City, Market Street and Mobsters — for venues such as MySpace and Facebook, claiming to entertain as many as 42 million online gamers.
KEY DEALS: The $563.2 million deal (plus an additional $200 million performance-linked payout) in August not only nabbed youth-oriented Playdom, but also its founder. Though the price tag raised eyebrows, Disney CEO Robert Iger decried tiptoeing into the social media pool, instead jumping in with a large splash to diversify Disney’s offerings while turning a profit. Despite revenue gains of 7% to $761 million for the fiscal year ended in October, DIMG lost $234 million. Erstwhile Yahoo executive James Pitaro was named DIMG’s co-president in October. Pleasants called the deal “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way people play games across devices, platforms and geographical boundaries.”
Thomas Barrack, Jr., Richard Nanula and Ronald Tutor
Chairman and CEO of construction giant Tutor-Perini, Tutor is a self-made mogul who dabbled in films with former biz partner David Bergstein. Barrack runs Colony Capital, an investment firm that owns real estate, casinos, Turkey’s largest chain of movie theaters and other properties. Nanula, the former CFO of the Walt Disney Co., is a Colony principal.
KEY DEALS: Bought Miramax Films from Disney for $663 million. Tutor has been involved since January, when Disney put Miramax on sale. Tutor thought he had made the winning bid, but Disney accepted an offer from Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein — a deal that fell apart in May. Disney returned to Tutor, who brought in Barrack. “With Miramax, we are buying a great library and a great brand,” Barrack says. “It is an irreplaceable and undervalued asset.” Nanula and Tutor say they are keen to exploit the Miramax library, especially, Tutor says, “as technology becomes more sophisticated.”
SPARE TIME: Barrack: Surfing, polo, tennis, winemaking. Nanula: Golf, tennis, wine, dogs.
TOP CAUSES: Barrack: Loyola HS, USC, various Lebanese charities. Nanula: Friends of the Family. Tutor: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles
–Joshua L. Weinstein
Joshua B. Grode
Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor LLP
A specialist in corporate law and mergers and acquisitions, Grode, who holds a bachelor’s from UCLA and a law degree from Loyola, has deep roots in the entertainment biz: His mother is an entertainment lawyer, and “growing up, I was constantly amazed at what she could do for people to help them realize their dreams,” he says. Grode represented Summit Entertainment in its original financing and subsequent financings and does substantial work for the vidgame industry.
KEY DEALS: Structured the financing for Filmyard Holdings’ $663 million acquisition of Miramax Films. Filmyard’s owners, construction magnate Ronald Tutor and Santa Monica based investment firm Colony Capital, are the equity sponsors. Another $300 million is from debt financing, the remainder from other partners.
SPARE TIME: Family
TOP CAUSES: Juvenile Arthritis Foundation and Special Olympics
–Joshua L. Weinstein
Barnes Law Firm
A founding partner of powerhouse Barnes Morris Klein Mark & Yorn, Barnes now runs a three-person firm specializing in entertainment and media corporate and finance matters.
KEY DEALS: Negotiated Filmyard Holding Co.’s $663 million purchase of Miramax from the Walt Disney Co. Began negotiations in January, but Disney accepted an offer by Harvey Weinstein. When that deal collapsed in May, Disney returned to Ronald Tutor and Colony Capital’s Filmyard. From June to August, Barnes was the purchaser’s sole counsel. “One of the secret weapons of how we got this done was, there was no committee. It was sitting in a room and saying, ‘Yes, no, yes, no. This is what we want.’ We got to it. We structured a deal.”
SPARE TIME: Republic of Malibu winery
TOP CAUSE: Malibu Wine Classic benefitting Childhelp
–Joshua L. Weinstein