The Weinstein Co. sale process is heating up with the first round of bids due on Wednesday, according to industry sources. Last month, the studio revived its attempts to sell itself or the bulk of its film and television assets rather than file for bankruptcy protection.
Killer Content, the parent company of the long-established indie Killer Films, and its social outreach wing, Killer Impact, are believed to be among the bidders. Killer Content has pulled together a group of investors, including Abigail Disney and the New York Women’s Foundation, in an effort to salvage the company’s assets by steering the profits from Weinstein Co. titles to non-profit orgs that help women grappling with sexual harassment and other concerns.
Maria Contreras-Sweet, former head of the Small Business Administration during the Obama years, is assembling a similar offer, according to individuals with knowledge of the talks. Lionsgate and Viacom, two companies that have been mentioned as potential acquirers, are not believed to have submitted bids. One executive whose company had kicked the tires on the Weinstein Company doubted that many companies would be interested in buying equity in the beleaguered studios. The executive thought that the only interest would be around peeling off some of its assets.
The Weinstein Co. has been in dire straits since early October, when the New York Times and New Yorker published exposes revealing sexual assault allegations against former co-chairman Harvey Weinstein dating back decades. TWC has been in free fall ever since as business and creative partners have quickly distanced themselves from the company amid the mushrooming scandal. Weinstein, who was fired by his own company shortly after the stories broke, is facing criminal investigations in New York, Beverly Hills, and London.
The Weinstein Co. was on the verge of bankruptcy in November, but after selling domestic distribution rights to “Paddington 2” in a $28 million deal with Warner Bros., it bought some time.
Moelis & Company is handling the sale process for the studio.
Weinstein Co. board members Lance Maerov and Tarak Ben Ammar have been handling the negotiations with banks and lenders, as the company assesses whether or not to dissolve, reorganize, or try to sell itself in pieces. Even though the “Paddington 2” sale may have alleviated some liquidity issues, there’s legal pressure accelerating the process. On Nov. 10, AI International Holdings, part of investor Len Blavatnik’s empire, filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court, claiming that the Weinstein Co. had defaulted on a $45 million loan. It is demanding that the studio repay the loan immediately.
Although saddled with debt, the Weinstein Co. does have a catalog of award-winning films and long-running television shows. It produced such Oscar winners as “Django Unchained,” “The King’s Speech,” and “The Artist,” and launched the “Project Runway” franchise.
A spokesperson for Moelis declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Weinstein Co. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.