Weinstein Co. Closes Bidding Process as Offers Approach $500 Million

Harvey Weinstein
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The Weinstein Co. has closed its bidding process and winnowed potential buyers to about a half dozen, according to knowledgeable insiders.

However, it is still unclear which of the prospective suitors will emerge with the beleaguered indie studio. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that bids approached $500 million, a substantial portion of which is the assumption of the studio’s considerable debts.

Bidders include a group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the former head of the Small Business Administration; Killer Content and philanthropist Abigail Disney; and Lions Gate Entertainment. The Journal also reported that Vine Alternative Investments and Shamrock Capital Investments were among the potential buyers. Some of the bids are for control of the entire company, while others would extract certain assets while leaving behind a shell of a company that would face substantial legal liability.

At various points, the Weinstein Co. flirted with filing for bankruptcy. Board members Lance Maerov and Tarak Ben Ammar are leading the efforts to sell the company.

The Weinstein Co. fired co-chairman Harvey Weinstein three days after the New York Times reported in October on his extensive history of sexual harassment settlements and allegations. The company was already struggling financially, weighed down by a series of film flops, and came under severe strain as its partners abandoned projects due to negative publicity.

Weinstein has challenged his ouster in private arbitration, and adamantly denies allegations that he engaged in non-consensual sex. He continues to own more than 20% of the company. The Weinstein Company’s library of films and television shows includes “Django Unchained,” “The Artist,” “Lion,” and “Project Runway.” It was founded in 2005, though the harassment allegations against Weinstein go back to his days running Miramax, an indie film studio that was owned by the Walt Disney Company.

Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.