Weinstein Company in talks for sale to Colony Capital following scandal

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The Weinstein Company has entered talks to sell the bulk of its assets to private equity firm Colony Capital, the companies said on Monday, as the film production company looks for stability after the departure of co-founder Harvey Weinstein.
Harvey Weinstein attending the 2016 amfAR New York Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan, New York, US, on Feb 10, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Weinstein Company announced on Monday (Oct 16) that Colony Capital had agreed to provide the scandal-plagued studio with financing and that the two parties were in talks on a potential sale.

Colony, founded by Thomas Barrack, a longtime friend of US President Donald Trump, will provide an "immediate cash infusion" into The Weinstein Company, the firm said in a statement.

"In addition, the Company has entered a negotiating period with Colony Capital for a potential sale of all or a significant portion of the Company's assets," the statement added.

The company fired co-founder Harvey Weinstein earlier this month following numerous accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Since that time, questions have swirled around whether the enterprise, started by Harvey and his brother Bob, could survive the disgraced exit of one of its co-founders.

US business media have reported that four of the board's seven members have resigned. The studio's website still lists Harvey Weinstein as co-chairman.

British news site the Daily Mail reported that the remaining board members were set to meet in New York City Tuesday.

"On behalf of the board, we are pleased to announce this agreement and potential strategic partnership with Colony Capital," Weinstein Company board member Tarak Ben Ammar said.

"We believe that Colony's investment and sponsorship will help stabilize the Company's current operations, as well as provide comfort to our critical distribution, production and talent partners around the world." .

Colony Capital is led by Barrack, who raised funds for Trump during the presidential campaign and has served as an informal advisor since. Barrack, who is of Lebanese descent, has publicly disagreed at times with the president on immigration and other matters.

Barrack founded Colony in 1991. He built his fortune by investing in high-risk real estate in the Middle East and Germany and once saved Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch from foreclosure.

"We are pleased to invest in The Weinstein Company and to help it move forward," said Barrack.

"We believe the company has substantial value and growth potential," he said.

"We will help return the company to its rightful iconic position in the independent film and television industry." Colony previously worked with The Weinstein Company on a venture to monetize content from the library of Miramax, Weinstein's earlier company that was sold to Disney in 1993.

Colony was part of a consortium that bought Miramax from Disney in 2010. Colony and other partners sold Miramax to Qatar-based BeIN Media in 2016.

The Weinstein Company has been in free fall following revelations that Harvey Weinstein assaulted or harassed more than two dozen women in the movie industry, including major stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd.

Once called "God" by Meryl Streep, Weinstein is credited with helping to ignite the rise of major independent cinema in the early 1990s at Miramax. The numerous films he has steered to Academy Awards glory include "The Artist," "The King's Speech," and "The Iron Lady."

But Weinstein, a supporter of progressive politicians including former President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has been castigated by political and cinematic figures alike in the wake of accusations by more than two dozen women of predatory behavior.

He is alleged to have sought to deploy his immense power in Hollywood to pressure starlets and other young women into intimate relationships.

On Saturday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled Weinstein. French President Emmanuel Macron has also asked officials to strip Weinstein of the prestigious Legion of Honor award.

The Weinstein story continued to reverberate in Hollywood and beyond. Thousands of women took to social media over the weekend in response to an appeal by actress Alyssa Milano to respond "me too" if they have been sexually assaulted or harassed.

It became the top trending topic on Twitter.

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