EXCLUSIVE: In half an hour, the board of directors of The Weinstein Company will sort through bids to decide the future of the former powerhouse independent company that has been hanging on for dear life after co-founder Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by a litany of former actresses and executives.
Sources said that there might be as many as a dozen bids, but there are certainly at least six of them that will be scrutinized in a meeting set for 11 AM. That includes one from Maria Contreras-Sweet, the former head of the Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama who Deadline reported posted a bid around $275 million but is much higher with the assumption of operating costs in a bid that would assume control of the entire operation. Another is Killer Content, which includes Killer Films and is backed by Abigail Disney, the daughter of Roy Disney. It is believed that both of these bids — which have been rumored for weeks — and one on the table from Lionsgate, would be to acquire the entire company. Shamrock Capital and Vine Investments are believed to be bidding, primarily to take the film and television library. And there are two other bids I’ve heard are in, specifically for the television business, if the board of directors decide to split the company into pieces and sell it. That would likely mean mass layoffs for the 157 staffers who’ve remained in place as the board and the company brain trust has tried to keep the company afloat. While some publications have reported that a plunge into bankruptcy was a foregone conclusion, the company doesn’t appear to need to seek out that protection, if today’s proceedings go smoothly.
Today’s meeting is expected to elicit a bid favored by the board, and then the hard nosed negotiations will get underway for a sale handled by Moelis & Co. It is not a foregone conclusion that a winner would be given right of exclusive negotiation. The board saw that backfire when earlier this fall it invited in Colony Capital. The financier got an exclusive window to tender an offer, and was supposed to provide interim financing. All that resulted was a lowball offer, no actual capital to keep the company afloat and a quick exit that left behind spin that didn’t help an already troubled company. The company helped its cause by selling off North American rights to Paddington 2 to Warner Bros for around $30 million. That gave TWC the needed cash flow to stay afloat during the most recent accumulation of bids.
There will be other complexities, including civil lawsuits that are already flying in against Weinstein. It is likely that any bid would build in a cushion for a contingency fund to handle potential liabilities, paired with the company’s insurance policies. But at least the next iteration of TWC is within sight, one that might relaunch the company with a woman at the helm and save the jobs of 157 weary staffers who’ve hung in, hoping for a miracle. There are a lot of creatives behind viable film and TV projects that have also been stuck in limbo and are hoping their work sees the light of day. Stay tuned.