Ex-Obama administration official in exclusive talks with Weinstein Co: source

FILE PHOTO: Maria Contreras-Sweet listens to remarks during her ceremonial swearing-in as Administrator of the Small Business Administration at the White House in Washington April 7, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

(Reuters) - The Weinstein Company has entered into exclusive negotiations to sell the studio with a group of investors led by former Obama administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The offer would assume all liabilities related to the business operations, inject new cash and pay down liabilities on the balance sheet, according to the source, who added that the new company would be led by a majority-female board of directors and team of investors. The company has $375 million in debt.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the talks on Tuesday and that the company could be sold for around $500 million, citing people close to the negotiations. (

The Weinstein Company has been looking for a buyer or rescue financing since late last year after accusations of sexual harassment against its former co-chairman, Harvey Weinstein. The company fired him in October following the allegations.

In November, Contreras-Sweet assembled a consortium of investors who offered $275 million for company.

Another source familiar with the talks told Reuters on Tuesday that the offer had been improved from the earlier one.

Earlier in January, Killer Content Inc, the movie producer that has partnered with philanthropist Abigail Disney in a consortium vying to acquire the Weinstein Company, said a bankruptcy may be the best way forward for the company.

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp LGFa.N has also made an offer for some of the company's assets, as has Qatar-owned film company Miramax, originally founded by Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob Weinstein.

Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York and Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru