Weinstein Co may be rescued

LOS ANGELES • The embattled Weinstein Co on Monday secured a financial lifeline - and possible new owner - from an investor with experience in distressed Hollywood assets. But the fate of the studio, including whether co-founder Bob Weinstein would stay involved, remained far from resolved.

Mr Tarak Ben Ammar, one of three remaining Weinstein Co board members, said in a statement on Monday that the studio, reeling from sexual harassment allegations made against the company's other co-founder, Harvey Weinstein, had reached a preliminary agreement with Colony Capital for an "immediate" cash infusion. The amount was undisclosed.

Mr Ammar also said Colony, which rescued Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch from foreclosure in 2008, had entered negotiations to buy all or most of The Weinstein Co's movie and television holdings.

Mr Thomas J. Barrack Jr, founder of Colony Capital, said in a statement that he believed the sullied studio "has substantial value and growth potential". A deal is expected to take three weeks or more to complete.

Harvey Weinstein was fired by the company last week. His brother, Bob, who insisted last Friday that speculation about a sale was "untrue", is fighting to remain at the studio, but some stakeholders believe he must leave, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Colony Capital is the private equity arm of Colony NorthStar, an investment firm that controls US$56 billion (S$76 billion) in assets.

Mr Barrack has gained attention recently for his longtime friendship with United States President Donald Trump. Colony's biggest distressed play in the entertainment industry came in 2010, when it was part of a consortium that acquired Miramax Films and its 700-film library for US$660 million.

The Weinstein brothers founded Miramax in 1979 and sold it to Disney in 1993. The Miramax deal was criticised as exorbitant, but Mr Barrack benefited from the unexpectedly fast rise of streaming services like Netflix, which licensed old Miramax films such as Pulp Fiction (1994) and Chicago (2002).

"We have made more money than we ever imagined," he told The New York Times in 2013 about the deal.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2017, with the headline 'Weinstein Co may be rescued'. Print Edition | Subscribe