UPDATED with response:
Despite a last minute bid that didn’t come in until the day after the polls closed, The Weinstein Co. officially declared that stalking horse bidder Lantern Capital has won the assets of the beleaguered company. Deadline revealed this exclusively last night.
The Weinstein Co. announced Lantern Capital won the bid to acquire the film and television assets of the company, saying no other bid approached the stalking-horse bidder’s offer for the company.
“Lantern’s bid clearly achieves the highest and best value for the estate and its creditors,” said Ivona Smith, a member of The Weinstein Co. board. “We look forward to working with Lantern to close the transaction and consummate the going concern sale.”
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Lantern Entertainment, an affiliate of Lantern Capital, said it was honored to be chosen.
“Lantern looks forward to continuing our work with the constituents involved in this court-supervised transition,” said Lantern Capital co-founders Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic. “Furthermore, we appreciate the significant support from employees, business partners, creative talent and numerous industry leaders as we set out to launch this new company.”
The sale ultimately must be approved by the bankruptcy court, according to attorney David Neale of the Los Angeles firm Levene, Neale, Bender, Yoo & Brill. Objections are due on Monday.
Earlier today, Deadline reported that The Weinstein Co. had received a letter of interest from Inclusion Media, a potential bidder backed by Broadway producer Howard Kagan. He offered to pay $315 million in cash offer for studio’s film and TV assets and allocate $30 million for two separate victims’ funds.
That interest was rebuffed.
“It strains credulity in a normal, capitalistic world that they wouldn’t want to have two people bidding on their assets,” said Kagan, whose interest in the Weinstein Co.’s assets was dismissed after a conference call today with company co-founder Bob Weinstein and a group attorneys.
Kagan said he is hopeful that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who in February filed a civil rights suit alleging a pervasive pattern of illegal activity at The Weinstein Co., and demanding that any buyer plan to adequately compensate the victims, will intervene.
Schneiderman issued an open letter Monday, calling on Weinstein Co. bidders to set aside money to compensate and provide support services for injured employees and actors.
“I’m waiting to see whether the Attorney General really means what they said in the letter yesterday,” said Kagan. “If he does, our bid is ready to go, but for getting remaining information from the company.”
A spokesperson for Schneiderman that the Attorney General’s office has underscored the importance of adequately compensating victims, protecting current and future employees, and ensuring that wrongdoers are not rewarded.
“We’ll continue to push for those critical goals,” said press secretary Amy Spitalnick. “Our lawsuit remains active and our investigation remains ongoing.”
Five of the women who filed a class-action suit against Harvey Weinstein in federal district court in New York, saying they were victims of the disgraced media mogul’s casting couch, issued a statement supporting Kagan’s bid.
The woman said they strongly oppose Lantern’s offer, which does not propose any compensation for victims.
“Lantern’s bid in no way addresses the victims of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault enterprise, which would sweep the 100+ instances of sexual assault, rape and more under the rug,” said Elizabeth Fegan, an attorney representing those with claims against Weinstein.
The Weinstein Co. said Inclusion’s letter, submitted after the bid deadline, was a conditional indication of interest that, in its view, contemplated substantially less value to the estate, and did not include a purchase agreement, a financing commitment, a deposit, or a number of other requirements for a qualified bid.
Although Inclusion did anticipate offering a fund for victims of sexual misconduct, The Weinstein Co. concluded, after discussions with Kagan, that the letter was not a bona fide offer.
Kagan said The Weinstein Co. was an impediment to the bid process in failing to provide the documents necessary for Inclusion Media to submit completed offer. He wondered aloud whether other interested buyers encountered the same problem.
“This company stood up in court and said there are 60 bidders. A week later nobody bids,” Kagan said. “Isn’t it at least possible that the reason people aren’t bidding is the company isn’t giving enough information?”
Cris Armenta, an attorney representing the women who brought the class-action suit, said the Inclusion Media’s bid may not be dead.
“We continue to believe that Inclusion Media will provide a qualified bid and may emerge as the highest and the best bid during the sale process,” Armenta said.
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