Disney’s Miramax sale hits rocky road

Investors back out of commitments

After a seamless record of closing deals, Walt Disney Co. isn’t looking so lucky this time with the sale of Miramax Films.

On July 30, Disney announced after months of reviewing bids, that it had sold Miramax to a group led by construction magnate Ron Tutor for $660 million and expected to close the acquisition between Sept. 10 and the end of the year. But it appears the deal is in more trouble than ever before.

Disney CEO Robert Iger has long wanted to offload the indie film unit that the Mouse bought from founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein in 1993. Unusual in deal circles, the sale was announced without its financing firmly in place. A Disney spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment.

The bulk of the financing was to come from Tutor and his partners Colony Capital, and James Robinson, founder of Morgan Creek, and philanthropist Jerome Swartz. The rest, a reported $250-$275 million, would come from banks, including Comerica and Union. But first Robinson and apparently now Swartz have backed out of their commitments, at a time when the financing with the banks was still not finalized.

It is still unclear whether the Weinsteins would still emerge as a viable bidder if the Tutor deal for Miramax goes south. The Weinstein Co.’s bid of $565 million was rejected by Disney earlier this year.