* Gores brothers raise bid for Miramax - source
* Miramax auction gains momentum, draws three bids
* Sources say deal could close as early as within weeks
* Disney, bidders actively meeting in last week
(Adds comments from bidder in paragraphs 14-15, additional
By Sue Zeidler and Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES, April 14 Bidding for Walt Disney
Co's (DIS.N) Miramax Films unit intensified this week and one
of three groups, led by Alec and Tom Gores, has raised its $550
million offer for the art-house studio, a source familiar with
the matter said on Wednesday.
It was unclear how much more was offered, but the source
said the Gores raised their bid in the last day.
The Gores are competing with a joint $600 million bid by
Hollywood producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein with billionaire
Ron Burkle, and a $650 million bid by an investor group being
advised by embattled film executive David Bergstein, according
to several sources familiar with the auction.
A source with knowledge of the situation said the Gores
brothers had initially bid $550 million cash with another
brother Sam Gores, head of Paradigm Talent Agency, acting as
Momentum has picked up for the auction, which had a slow
start and sources say Disney has recently held various meetings
with suitors for Miramax, with a library of more than 600 films
including "Pulp Fiction," and it been trying to fetch $700
million for the division.
Disney has declined to comment. Representatives for the
Gores and Weinsteins have also declined to comment.
One bidder said he believed Disney could close a deal to
sell its Miramax Films unit within weeks.
Some have said they see the joint bid by the Weinsteins and
Burkle as the strongest, given the Weinsteins founded Miramax
and sold it to Disney in 1993 and have a first-hand knowledge
of the assets.
But the source familiar with the matter said the Gores
brothers were "very much in the hunt."
Alec Gores is founder of private equity firm The Gores
Group, and Tom Gores runs Platinum Equity. If they buy Miramax,
the brothers could ramp up its shuttered production division,
another source familiar with the bids said.
Under the Weinstein/Burkle bid, Burkle's Yucaipa Cos, which
has grocery store holdings, would own Miramax and let the
Weinsteins run it, said a source with knowledge of the
Hollywood insiders say Bergstein's bid could be hampered by
a court action that creditors filed last month seeking to force
several of his companies into bankruptcy.
Nevertheless, Bergstein told Reuters he was intent on
buying Miramax and that his group might also raise its bid.
Bergstein, best known for running distribution company
THINKFilm, said he has not been informed that the Gores raised
their bid, but he called them a "well-funded organization."
"If they raise their bid we're going to raise our bid, we
have a lot of room to go up if necessary," he said.
Bergstein has told Reuters that Miramax's value has plenty
of room for future growth and that he expects Disney would
likely close the deal within two weeks.
"I wouldn't be surprised if they made the decision in the
next week," said another source familiar with the bids.
Others have cautioned that Disney could still choose to
Disney, which is scheduled to report earnings on May 11, is
looking to sell the unit, which it bought for $80 million,
because it does not fit in with its increased focus on big
branded and franchise films.
However, Disney may also want to retain a stake in some of
Miramax's content going forward, according to the source
involved in the deal making.
"I can see them wanting some upside in the projects that
have been identified as having sequels," a source said,
referring to Miramax's "Scream" and "Spy Kids" lucrative
(Reporting by Sue Zeidler and Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by