EXCLUSIVE: As tonight’s deadline approaches for bids for The Weinstein Co., a new player might emerge with an offer that includes compensation for the women who say they were sexually assaulted or harassed by the company’s disgraced co-chairman, Harvey Weinstein, according to multiple sources.
The New York-based bidder with ties to Broadway is contemplating a bid that would maintain TWC as an active film and television studio headquartered in New York City, sources say.
This interested party also envisions honoring the commitments that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman secured on behalf of victims from an investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet and Ron Burkle, whose deal to buy the Weinstein Co. ultimately collapsed.
The bidder asked to remain unidentified because the offer has yet to be made, and might not come to fruition. However multiple parties are aware of this well-established entertainment figure’s interest in The Weinstein Co. and its film library of 277 films and its optioned projects.
Bids are due by 5 PM ET today. The Weinstein Co. will hold an auction for its assets on May 4, if qualified bids trump the deal struck with stalking-horse bidder Lantern Capital prior to the studio’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The Dallas-based private equity firm made a$425 million offer: $310 million in cash and the assumption of $115 million in liabilities.
Lantern and any other qualified bidder could make subsequent offers at the auction, with bidding at auction increasing in increments of at least $1 million, according to court documents. The Weinstein Co. will determine which is the highest or best offer for its assets and notify all the participants of the successful bidder.
Miramax, a studio co-founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and later sold, also is reportedly among the interested bidders.
The stalking-horse bidder would stand to collect a breakup fee of $9.3 million and reimbursement of up to $4.65 million in expenses, if The Weinstein Co. chooses another bidder. The size of this breakup fee kept at least one small studio that had expressed interest in acquiring the studio’s assets out of the bidding.
A sale hearing is scheduled for May 8, in bankruptcy court. The court will approve and authorize the sale. The creditors also have the opportunity to weigh in, including the Committee of Unsecured Creditors, whose members include Louisette Geiss, one of six women seeking class-action certification for a lawsuit filed against Harvey Weinstein for his alleged sexual predation, and Sandeep Rehal, a former Weinstein assistant who filed a sexual harassment suit.
Members of this committee are bound by confidential obligations that prevent them from commenting about the auction process. But this group is charged with advocating on behalf of all of The Weinstein Co.’s creditors — including scores of women who say they were preyed upon by Weinstein and are still seeking an acknowledgement of wrongdoing.