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Bids for the embattled Weinstein Company have been narrowed down to six, the highest among them coming in at under $500 million, a new report says.
Half that price is an assumption of debt, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, and any new owner would not inherit the presumably massive legal liability stemming from lawsuits over Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct while he ran the studio.
Lionsgate, Hollywood legacy and philanthropist Abigail Disney and former U.S. Small Business Administration head Maria Contreras-Sweet account for half the bidders, TheWrap previously reported.
Investment firms Vine Alternative and Shamrock Capital, as well as Christine Vachon’s Killer Content, are also in the race.
While bidders like Contreras-Sweet have pledged to keep the studio in tact and engage its nearly 200 employees, some bidders are hoping to extract library titles and breakout money makers like TWC’s television hit “Project Runway.”
In late December, a TWC insider said Contreras-Sweet would be preferable to, say, Lionsgate as the latter would likely absorb the most attractive parts of the company and dump the rest.
Shareholders are expected to come up empty handed, WSJ said, thanks to considerable existing debt and litigation, like two class action lawsuits in the works against former CEO Harvey. Moelis & Co. is handling the sale.
Complicating matters for TWC is its suffocating debt. Two individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap the company’s estimated total debt is about $900 million, however insiders pegged it at closer to $300 million outstanding. TWC re-upped a $500 million senior credit facility with a variety of institutions last year, which carries a 4 percent interest rate. And the company is only releasing about six to eight movies a year.
TWC’s speciality label Dimension Films has stagnated while the sale gets underway. Production is wrapping for a Spring release of Robert De Niro’s “War With Grandpa.” There’s also the finished awards hopeful “The Upside,” starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, whose release was pushed after the October sexual harassment scandal ignited Hollywood.
Once a sale is complete TWC will rebrand and change its name, TheWrap reported in October.