The Weinstein Co. is trying to secure a financial lifeline that will allow the indie film and television studio to avert bankruptcy. The company still believes that it can find a buyer for its library of award-winning movies and programming without having to file for Chapter 11, but even with a cash infusion, its financial picture is bleak.
A series of sexual harassment and assault allegations involving co-founder Harvey Weinstein have triggered the studio’s current crisis, but knowledgeable insiders say that the company faces staggering debt levels that could complicate a sale. They estimate that the Weinstein Co. has a debt load of roughly $520 million. The breakdown of financial obligations demonstrates that the company is heavily leveraged and has extensively used its film library as collateral to secure loans that have allowed it to operate.
In terms of a breakdown, the Weinstein Co. maintains two credit facilities, one for $200 million that’s secured by a library of films that includes such Oscar-winning titles as “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.” Another is secured by its television library, which includes the “Project Runway” franchise. That facility is for $20 million. There’s also a series of loans for various films in production that amount to roughly $90 million, as well as production loans related to TV shows that total approximately $60 million. The company has about $50 million in corporate debt, as well as approximately $100 million it owes to talent in profit participation and residuals from the films and shows it has made over the years.
The Weinstein Co. has enlisted FTI Consulting and O’Melveny Restructuring as it weighs a potential corporate shake-up, with the company’s board relying on Moelis & Company as a financial adviser. It is also reportedly close to securing a $35 million bridge loan from Fortress Investment Group that would likely use parts of its film library as collateral. The hope is that the loan would stave off bankruptcy. However, any potential bidders — a group that includes Lionsgate, MGM, and Killer Content, parent company of Killer Films — would prefer that the company undergo bankruptcy, because that would indemnify them from legal obligations related to Harvey Weinstein’s alleged harassment and assaults.
The extent and complexity of the debt obligations could also make bankruptcy a necessary first step toward any potential sale. It’s unlikely that any potential buyer would want to take on the company until it had streamlined its liabilities.
As for Harvey Weinstein, the mogul’s publicist hit back at reports that he will be indicted in New York for allegedly raping actress Paz de la Huerta in 2010, saying such a move is not “imminent.” Weinstein has allegedly assaulted or harassed dozens of women, a group that includes Angelina Jolie, Mira Sorvino, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Rose McGowan. Police in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and London have also received reports of assaults.
A spokesman for the Weinstein Co. did not respond to a request for comment.