EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh says today that he and some financial backers have amassed the resources needed to maintain control of all of his company’s operations except for television.
Meanwhile, a creditor group that includes Anchorage Capital, Falcon Investment Advisors, and Luxor Capital separately announced what it disclosed yesterday in a filing at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court — that it was the highest bidder for Relativity Media’s television operation. The group, known in the case as the Stalking Horse Bidders, offered $125 million for the unit after withdrawing its $250 million bid for the entire company.
The announcements come at the 11th hour ahead of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing tomorrow before Judge Michael Wiles who is overseeing the studio’s effort to escape Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. He will have to approve any plan. Before he does, he will want to be sure that Kavanaugh not only has enough cash to buy the non-TV assets, but that he can also afford to manage them. The movie properties would include production and distribution but not four films including The Lazarus Effect and Woman In Black 2.
Ron Burkle is said to be among Kavanaugh’s backers. He may have stuck with the Relativity chief to try to keep him from going ahead with a suit for breach of fiduciary duty that Kavanaugh was planning against the billionaire’s Colbeck Capital. It held seats on the studio’s board before May when it was unceremoneiously tossed off.
We’re told that Kavanaugh and his consortium will pay $95 million to compensate providers of the debtor-in-possession financing, as well as the balance of Relativity’s senior secured debt. When the deal closes — planned for October 20 — the debt will be exchanged for equity.
The arrangement “will create a path for Relativity to emerge from bankruptcy with a significantly fortified balance sheet and virtually no debt which positions the company for long-term growth,” Kavanaugh says — adding that he will remain Chairman and CEO. The company will emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with $30 million in debt, but with “a significant library and its business units fully intact.” He plans to “quickly move forward” on projects and “will in due course” disclose release dates for movies including Masterminds, The Disappointments Room, Before I Wake, The Crow and Kidnap.
“My passion for Relativity is the same today as it was on the day I founded it,” Kavanaugh says in a statement. “I want to thank our employees for their continued focus and dedication throughout the Chapter 11 process. I look forward to working with my partners and with Relativity’s executive team to build and take the company to the next level, continuing its 360 degree content engine approach at a time when content has never before been more valuable.”
The Stalking Horse creditors say in a statement that they “are very pleased about the outcome of the auction and excited about beginning the process of further strengthening Relativity Television. As one of the largest suppliers of high quality television programming in the United States, we believe there are attractive opportunities to drive innovation, creativity and growth to enable the business to realize its full potential. Upon completion of the sale, Relativity Television will be well-capitalized with a strong and creative senior leadership team, incredible human resources and valuable partner relationships, and we are confident that the business will be extremely well-positioned to achieve sustainable, long term success.”
Television is Relativity’s most profitable unit. But it accounted for just 19% of the company’s $501.1 million in revenues in 2014 while film generated 69%. Relativity also owns stakes in sports management and education operations.