Billionaire investor Ron Burkle has traveled to New York in a bid to revive negotiations to buy the beleaguered Weinstein Co., sources tell Variety.
Burkle is trying to enlist New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in his effort to get the Weinstein Co. board back to the negotiating table. Insiders note that it would be in Schneiderman’s interest to complete a deal with robust protections for Harvey Weinstein’s victims, and thereby avoid taking blame for the company’s collapse.
Talks broke down over the weekend, as the board abruptly announced that the sale was off and that it would pursue a bankruptcy filing. The company’s directors felt that Burkle and his partner, former Small Business Administration head Maria Contreras-Sweet, were not negotiating in good faith. The board had sought $7 million in up-front financing from the buyers to keep the company afloat while the transaction was pending, which the buyers rejected.
It is not yet clear whether the board will be receptive to Burkle’s entreaties. Bob Weinstein, the chairman of the board, is taking heat from the company’s employees, who saw the sale as the best hope to retain their jobs. In a memo to the staff on Tuesday, he indicated that he is still open to discussing various potential transactions.
But the board remains wary of Burkle. The board has indicated that it is willing to put the company into bankruptcy if the terms and the tenor of the negotiations do not improve, though a filing may not actually happen for another couple of weeks.
In addition to the dispute over interim financing, the two sides also had conflicts over David Glasser, the ousted chief operating officer. In the original plan, Glasser was supposed to become CEO under the new ownership group. But Schneiderman filed suit against the company on Feb. 11, alleging that Glasser was among those who enabled Harvey Weinstein’s abuse of employees. He insisted that Glasser not be allowed to run the company. The Weinstein Co. board fired Glasser on Feb. 16 “for cause,” but Burkle and Contreras-Sweet have still not ruled out retaining him in the top job.