The on-again, off-again $500 million sale of The Weinstein Co. is officially off—again. For now.
Earlier this year, the production studio was set to complete a sale to a new ownership group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, Ron Burkle and Lantern Capital when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a bombshell civil rights lawsuit against TWC. The lawsuit threw the entire deal into uncertainty, and now we know that the potential sale is off.
Here is an on the record statement from Contreras-Sweet, courtesy of Deadline:
All of us have worked in earnest on the transaction to purchase the assets of The Weinstein Company. However, after signing and entering into the confirmatory diligence phase, we have received disappointing information about the viability of completing this transaction.
As a result, we have decided to terminate this transaction.
I would like to thank the employees and the board of The Weinstein Company for pursuing this opportunity with us and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for playing a crucial role at a critical time. I especially want to thank Ron Burkle and The Yucaipa Companies for their advice, showing faith in this deal, and taking an unusual step of subordinating many typical investor board rights to the women who would have led this company. I would like to thank Lantern Asset Management for their early capital commitment and Len Blavatnik for his willingness to look at creative options on the debt side. Lastly, I would like to thank Tarak Ben Ammar.
I believe that our vision to create a women-led film studio is still the correct course of action. To that end, we will consider acquiring assets that may become available in the event of bankruptcy proceedings, as well as other opportunities that may become available in the entertainment industry.
I remain committed to working to advance women’s business ownership in all sectors and to inspire girls to envision their futures as leaders of important companies.
The Weinstein Co. has not yet responded to Observer’s request for comment.
The studio is now expected to file for bankruptcy, which will allow other studios to acquire the company’s assets. TWC has an impressive backlog catalog of films and was in the midst of developing its growing television division when the Weinstein scandal broke.
Earlier this week, actresses and other females in entertainment expressed optimism that Contreras-Sweet could squeeze some good out of a bad situation.
“It is ironic but positive that a woman is involved in the purchase,” Katherine Kendall said. “It’s encouraging that they have set aside the compensation fund for victims as it’s a tacit acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the claims by the accusers.”
As part of the $500 million deal, a reported $90 million was to be set aside for a victims fund.