beIN-Media-Group-logoBREAKING: Media and entertainment company beIN Media Group has acquired Miramax from selling shareholders Qatar Investment Authority and Colony Capital, but it promises to allow Miramax to continue operating as an independent film and TV studio under its new ownership. The Qatar-based beIN Media Group has a sports network and a movie channel and also is involved in pay-TV distribution.

Miramax, launched by Bob and Harvey Weinstein in 1979, now basically shifts from one investor group to another, which as been its fate over the years. It will compile a new board of directors.

The Miramax library contains more than 700 titles including Best Picture Oscar winners The English Patient, Chicago, Shakespeare in Love and No Country for Old Men. The company (library) that the Weinsteins built over many years and was named after their mother and father initially was sold for $60M to the Walt Disney Co. in 1993, and the brothers Weinstein exited 12 years later having built an impressive library of titles that also includes such pics as Pulp Fiction, Restoration and Good Will Hunting.

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Then in July 2010, the company changed hands again and was bought by an investor group for $660M. That investor group included Colony Capital, which is controlled by Thomas Barrack Jr., Qatar Holdings and Ron Tutor, who later sold his stake to Qatar. At the time of the sale, Miramax had roughly $300 million in cash receivables and the value of the company is unknown since no new titles have been produced that it owns.

In 2011, a deal with Netflix brought in about $220M to $240M with $60M in cash that was already in Miramax, Deadline has learned. That, by the way, marked the first time Miramax titles were made available through a digital subscription service. After that, the investors re-financed for $840M to $860M with financial institutions (which included pension funds) and then they apparently sold revenue bonds which they then had to pay interest on every month.

In 2014, they announced that they had secured another $25M in revolving credit after a securitization transaction based on their film library asset. That included the issuance of $250M aggregate principal amount of 3.34% with those notes due in 2026. That was done by Barclays.

Net proceeds from the sale of the notes were to be used for the repayment of all outstanding indebtedness under the 2011 note issuance and general corporate purposes, including investment in new film and television production. So what the company is actually valued at, considering the debt load, is unknown.

The acquisition comes after a number of key executives exited the company over the years primarily because of the investor’s reluctance to fund new content to build the asset. Rather than bring in a creative talent and/or someone with entertainment experience to lead the company that has such a rich history of films (282 Oscar nominations, 68 Oscars and four Best Pictures), they ended up promoting the CFO to interim chairman for the past four years. His prior experience was at pharmaceutical company (Amgen).

Colony and Qatar had been looking to sell the company for at least a year and were looking for $1B for the library and operation with Morgan Stanley leading the sale. Apparently, no one wanted to pay that premium price given that there were no new content created that was owned by the company.

In 2016, Miramax has or will be investing and then co-distributing a number of titles including Bad Santa 2, Bridget Jones’s Baby, Southside with You, The 9th Life of Louis Drax as well as the TV show From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series based on the film of the same name. That series is on the El Rey cable network, a joint venture between Rodriguez and Univision. Last year, the company’s slate included Mr. Holmes and the comedy The Wedding Ringer (which the company doesn’t own).

“We are extremely excited to have achieved this key milestone within our strategy,” said Nasser Al-Khelaifi, Chairman and CEO of beIN Media Group in making the announcement. He called it “a complement” to the company’s plans grow its business and development new content.

Irell & Manella represented Miramax in the transaction with Sullivan & Cromwell representing the holding company and Latham & Watkins representing beIN Media Group.