Business & Economy

Deal to take over the Weinstein Company falls through

Maria Contreras-Sweet led a group of investors seeking to acquire Weinstein Co. and install a women-led board of directors.
Maria Contreras-Sweet led a group of investors seeking to acquire Weinstein Co. and install a women-led board of directors.
Evan Vucci/AP

The effort by a group of investors to buy the Weinstein Company, founded by the disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, has ended.

The collapse of the deal was confirmed in a statement issued Tuesday by Maria Contreras-Sweet, a former Obama administration official.

"All of us have worked in earnest on the transaction to purchase the assets of The Weinstein Company. However, after signing and entering into the confirmatory diligence phase, we have received disappointing information about the viability of completing this transaction.

"As a result, we have decided to terminate this transaction."

A source familiar with the deal told NPR that the "disappointing information" was the revelation of another $50 million-plus of debt, in addition to that previously known by the investors. Another source close to the negotiations said it was a combination of the new information and the worry that more debt could be uncovered later that killed the deal.

Contreras-Sweet had headed the Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama. She led a group of investors backed by billionaire Ron Burkle.

As the Two-Way reported, the investor group had hoped to salvage the New York-based Weinstein Co. after it announced in late February that it would file for bankruptcy in the wake of a storm of allegations of sexual misconduct, including rape, against Harvey Weinstein.

The company also was hit by a civil rights lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleging that it broke state laws against sexual harassment and discrimination.

"We'll be disappointed if the parties cannot work out their differences and close the deal. Our lawsuit against the Weinstein Company, Bob Weinstein, and Harvey Weinstein remains active and our investigation is ongoing," said Schneiderman's press secretary Amy Spitalnick.

In a statement, Contreras-Sweet thanked Schneiderman, Burkle and other investors involved in the now-collapsed deal. She also left open the possibility of pursuing company assets in bankruptcy proceedings.

"I believe that our vision to create a women-led film studio is still the correct course of action. To that end, we will consider acquiring assets that may become available in the event of bankruptcy proceedings, as well as other opportunities that may become available in the entertainment industry.

"I remain committed to working to advance women's business ownership in all sectors and to inspire girls to envision their futures as leaders of important companies."

This story has been updated.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.