Disney's Miramax Deal With Weinsteins Collapses

For second time in a week, reports that talks have failed. This time neither side denies it

The Walt Disney Co.’s sale of Miramax to Harvey and Bob Weinstein and their group of financial backers appears to have failed.

An individual close to the talks said on Tuesday that talks had broken down a week ago. But Harvey Weinstein and his financial partner, billionaire Ron Burkle, had issued a statement last Friday saying talks were ongoing.

But on Tuesday, there was no such denial forthcoming. Neither side would comment for the record about the state of the talks.

Talks apparently collapsed over issues related to the structure of Miramax's relationship with the Weinstein Company. Burkle and Fortress Investment Group and Colbeck Capital were seeking jointly to buy Miramax for the Weinsteins to manage, at an agreed-upon sale price of $625 million.

The Weinstein brothers, who founded the company and named it after their parents, Miriam and Max, had secured an exclusive negotiating window with Disney six weeks ago. Disney repeatedly renewed the window with an eye to sealing the deal.

But even with individuals on both sides claiming that the deal was imminent and that the major points had been settled, legal minutiae and details of the library split caused the talks to drag on and ultimately fizzle.

The sale supposedly was meant to be completed in the past two weeks; Harvey Weinstein had fervently hoped to announce the homecoming of his company at the Cannes Film Festival.

But it was not to be. Individuals close to the negotiations said every communication between the two sides was complicated by objections and caveats from bankers and lawyers. Also complicating matters was that there were four parties in the negotiations rather than two, each with their own set of financial advisers: Disney, Weinstein, Burkle and Fortress/Colbeck.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Disney had formally ended talks.The L.A. Times also reported this last week, but that report was denied by Weinstein and Burkle.

The development reopens the path for two other bidders, Tom and Alec Gores and a consortium led by David Bergstein, to bid again for the arthouse studio.

Previously:  Weinstein, Burkle Say Deal for Miramax Still Alive (Updated)

Miramax Update: Deadline Extended, Deal by Monday?