The entry of Qatar-based BeIn Media Group into the Weinstein Co. auction has come as a surprise to others who have been vying for the film and TV assets of Weinstein Co. Weinstein Co. has been battered since early October by the revelations of allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Harvey Weinstein, forcing the company that was already in bad financial shape to undergo a fire sale process and possible bankruptcy restructuring.
The Weinstein brothers are believed to own more than 40% of the equity in the Weinstein Co. One participant close to the situation said that it has become clear that a sale of Weinstein Co. can’t be approved without the vote of at least one of the brothers. Harvey Weinstein was fired as co-chairman and has resigned from the Weinstein Co. board, but he is believed to have maintained his voting rights as an equity stakeholder.
Sources said the brothers view a deal with Miramax, the company they sold to Disney in 1993 but left in 2005, as the best option for them to eventually come back into the picture at the company. A source familiar with the situation said the brothers believe that leaders of BeIn Media will be less sensitive to the outrage spurred throughout the industry by the accusations leveled at Harvey Weinstein, given the distance between Qatar and Hollywood. Also attractive to the brothers is the prospect of reuniting their legacy at Miramax with their most recent output through Weinstein Co.
Before the BeIn Media bid surfaced, the sale process appeared to be leaning toward a deal with an investor group led by former Small Business Administration executive Maria Contreras-Sweet. That group has vowed to keep Weinstein Co. mostly intact but with female-led leadership. The group also planned to establish a fund to compensate alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein, as a means of trying to rehabilitate the company’s image and take the stigma away from films produced by Harvey Weinstein.
Sources said the sale process led by merchant bank Moelis & Co. seemed to have stalled in the past few days. The expectation last week was that Moelis would begin an exclusive negotiating window with the Contreras-Sweet group. But details on the time frame for the sale process wrapping up have been sparse. Some contenders also complain that financial information about Weinstein Co. that had been promised has not materialized.
Bidders have been told to be prepared to deliver binding offers by the end of this month, according to sources.
A rep for Harvey Weinstein declined a request for comment. A rep for Weinstein Co. could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Los Angeles Times first reported on Miramax entering the bidding for Weinstein Co.