| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Billionaire Ron Burkle and Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein on Friday said they were continuing efforts to buy Walt Disney Co's (DIS.N) Miramax Films, playing down media reports that the long-gestating deal had fallen through.
Two sources with knowledge of the situation had told Reuters earlier that talks to hammer out final details in the sale were ongoing. But a third source told Reuters the deal appeared near a breaking point amid disagreements between the buyers over control of the unit.
"The Weinstein Brothers, The Weinstein Company and Ron Burkle are all working toward a deal to purchase and operate Miramax. The parties continue to work diligently toward an agreement," Burkle and Weinstein said in a joint statement.
Burkle's Yucaipa Cos, which has grocery store holdings, and Weinstein Company, run by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, have launched what sources have said was a $625 million bid for Miramax, which has a library of more than 600 films including "Pulp Fiction" and "The English Patient."
The joint statement from Burkle and Weinstein came after reports in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times that the deal had fallen through.
The third source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters that discussions have hit a roadblock for now, as tensions emerged between the two would-be buyers.
The parties entered into an exclusive negotiating window in April on the sale of Miramax.
The first source said a deal could be reached within the next two weeks and that the remaining stumbling blocks are not over the final price tag, but over details such as the percentages on revenue-sharing agreements.
The second source with knowledge of the situation said Yucaipa would receive financing on the deal from investment firm Fortress Financial Group.
Disney declined to comment.
A source with knowledge of the situation said that the exclusive window has been extended as talks continued and that it was due to expire at the end of this week.
Before it entered into exclusive talks with Yucaipa and the Weinsteins, sources said Disney had received a $650 million offer from embattled film executive David Bergstein, who had recently been taken to court by creditors seeking to force several of his companies into bankruptcy.
Disney also had received a $550 million offer from the firms of financiers Alec and Tom Gores, with their brother Sam Gores, head of Paradigm Talent Agency, acting as advisor, sources said. That bid was later raised, sources said, but it was unclear by how much.
Disney has sought to sell its Miramax unit after shuttering its production division. The company views Miramax, with its edgy mix of films, as a poor fit for Disney's family-friendly business focus.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Gary Hill)