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Former Obama administration official in bid for The Weinstein Co
November 20, 2017 / 3:07 AM / in 22 days

Former Obama administration official in bid for The Weinstein Co

(Reuters) - Maria Contreras-Sweet, the former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), has submitted an offer to acquire the Weinstein Co, a spokeswoman for the U.S. film and TV studio said on Sunday.

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

Contreras-Sweet has put together a consortium of investors who have offered $275 million for The Weinstein Co, according to a source familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified discussing details of the bid. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the offer earlier on Sunday without stating its value.

The bid comes after the movie studio secured a $20 million cash infusion from the sale of the children’s movie “Paddington 2” last week to Warner Brothers Pictures, a unit of Time Warner Inc (TWX.N). The Weinstein Co’s co-chairman Harvey Weinstein stepped down last month following sexual assault allegations.

The movie studio, known for hit movies including “The King’s Speech” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” has been trying to find a buyer or rescue financing after more than 50 women claimed that Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them over the past three decades.

Harvey Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone. Reuters has been unable to independently confirm any of the allegations.

Contreras-Sweet’s plans call for a majority-female board at The Weinstein Co should her offer prevail, the source said. The offer includes an approximately $30 million fund for the alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein, the source added. The fund would be set up through a mediation process, according to the source.

The spokeswoman for The Weinstein Co did not comment on the details of the offer it received. A spokesman for Contreras-Sweet declined to comment.

U.S. President Barack Obama in 2014 selected Contreras-Sweet as the head of the SBA, which makes loans to small businesses and helps them get government contracts. She had previously founded ProAmerica Bank, a Latino-owned community bank in Los Angeles, which focuses on lending to small- and medium-sized Latino businesses.   

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) has marked its small equity stake in The Weinstein Co down to zero, Reuters reported last week, reflecting the investment bank’s assessment that the value of the company has diminished following Harvey Weinstein’s departure.

The proceeds from the “Paddington 2” sale enable The Weinstein Co to continue to operate until January, the source said. Investment firm Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG.N) was considering lending to the film and TV studio, but those talks ended without a deal earlier this month.

More than 20 other potential bidders are analyzing The Weinstein Co’s financial data, the source said. The studio has $375 million in debt, including a $45 million loan from AI International Holdings Limited, an affiliate of billionaire Len Blavatnik’s industrial group Access Industries, the person said. Much of the debt is backed by the company’s film and TV assets.

Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli and Liana B. Baker in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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