Less than a week after the Weinstein Co. seemed destined for bankruptcy, a deal emerged for an investment group to buy assets from the troubled firm in order to launch a new movie studio that will be led by women.
The deal, between the Weinstein Co. and a group backed by billionaire Ron Burkle and led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, who was in charge of the Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama, is said to be worth more than $500 million, according to Reuters.
Contreras-Sweet released a statement that said her group planned to use the Weinstein assets to start a company “led by a board of directors made up of a majority of independent women,” which would “save about 150 jobs, protect the small businesses who are owed money and create a victims’ compensation fund that would supplement existing insurance coverage for those who have been harmed.”
The Weinstein Co. board of directors released a statement announcing the agreement, thanking the investment group, and saying, “We consider this to be a positive outcome under what have been incredibly difficult circumstances.
Rocky negotiations had gone on for weeks between the investment group and the Weinstein Co., which has been in turmoil over accusations against Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including rape, by more than 50 women.
On Feb. 26, the Weinstein Co. said it would file for bankruptcy, as NPR’s Laurel Wamsley reported, after talks between the two sides broke down over disagreements about interim funding, among other things.
And two weeks ago, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Weinstein Co., stating that the studio “repeatedly broke New York law by failing to protect its employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation, and discrimination.”
The attorney general said the amount of money allocated for victims of sexual assault and harassment was too small in the early sale proposals, but a source familiar with Thursday’s deal said the buyers upped that amount to between $80-$90 million.
As the sale agreement was announced, Schneiderman released a statement saying the new owners have committed to “a well-funded victims compensation fund” and to implementing “HR policies that will protect all employees, and will not unjustly reward bad actors.”
Another sticking point was the role of top Weinstein executive David Glasser.
The investors originally wanted to make Glasser the COO of the new company but Schneiderman considered him an enabler of Weinstein, and therefore wanted him out of the new business. The Weinstein Co. fired Glasser two weeks ago, and the source said Thursday’s agreement also has him officially out of the new company.
“This next step represents the best possible pathway to support victims and protect employees,” Conteras-Sweet said on Thursday. “We are grateful to our investors who have believed in this process and in the compelling value of a female-led company.”
A new name for the potential company has not been selected, reports Variety, though at one point the investors were said to be leaning toward “Wonder Hill.”