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Deadline looming for Imagine bids

This is the final week for bids to take over Imagine Films and all suitors had better take pen in hand.

In a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer revealed that they have been asked by a special committee of Imagine’s board to submit their cash bid of not less than $ 9 per share for the production company by Monday.

Howard and Grazer weren’t the only recipients of the letter, per Imagine Films Entertainment Inc. chief financial officer Michael Meltzer. “It was sent not only to Ron and Brian, but others that have expressed interest in Imagine.”

So far, the short list rumored to be interested in a bid includes board member Peter Dekom, Andy Vajna’s Cinergi Prods., Japan’s Fujisankei Group and even New Line Pictures Inc. Reportedly, Dekom has been on the fund-raising trail , from Hong Kong to Tokyo. He declined comment.

As a tip in that direction, the SEC filing noted that both Grazer and Howard have been contacted by a “third party who has expressed an interest in making a proposal to acquire the company.”

Moreover, the unnamed bidder has asked the pair to make concessions in connection to the proceeds from their shares in event of a purchase. Discussions are ongoing, the document said, but there was “no assurance” that a formal bid would be made.

Nearly three months ago, Jack Crosby, an Imagine director, had to give up his seat on the special committee because he was assisting a company interested in a bid.

Since Grazer and Howard control 54.41% of the shares outstanding, they would have to be part of any serious bid. In this case, they may be asked to defer some of their payment until a later date.

Both had made a bid of $ 9 public when they announced in early May they were leaving Imagine. They quickly announced they had cut a new production deal with Universal, an Imagine shareholder and distributor, that begins soon after their contract ends Friday.

Speed is of the essence. The special committee, consisting of USC Law School dean Scott Bice and Charles H. Stern, meets Monday to review the bids.

“Everything will be determined that day,” said Stern. “We’re hoping it’ll come to a conclusion quickly.”

Imagine’s stock appeared unruffled by the development, closing down 12.5 cents to $ 8.25.

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