NEW YORK TIMES -BUSINESS
By BROOKS BARNES and MICHAEL CIEPLY
LOS ANGELES — The Walt Disney Company agreed late Thursday to sell Miramax Films to an investor group for about $660 million.
The deal ends a laborious six-month bidding process that saw the founders of the storied independent film label, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, fall short in their attempt to regain control. Disney agreed to the sale after the construction magnate Ronald N. Tutor and his allies paid a nonrefundable $40 million deposit and presented a financing plan.
Disney said the transaction, which is subject to certain regulatory approvals, is expected to close between Sept. 10 and the end of the year. “Although we are very proud of Miramax’s many accomplishments, our current strategy for Walt Disney Studios is to focus on the development of great motion pictures under the Disney, Pixar and Marvel brands,” Disney’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger, said in a statement.
Mr. Tutor, who is the chief executive of the Tutor Perini Corporation, and Thomas J. Barrack, the chief executive of Colony Capital, a private equity firm, bought Miramax through a company called Filmyard Holdings. In a statement, Mr. Tutor said he was “delighted” with the purchase, adding, “We look forward to sharing this high-quality content with the world in every form of media for many years to come.”
The price stretches beyond what some competitors were prepared to offer; in some cases valuations of the Miramax library, with includes about 700 movies like “Chicago” and “No Country for Old Men,” dipped below $500 million.
One difficulty for potential buyers was that Disney’s powerful distribution machinery has been getting better prices for rights to the Miramax films than could be commanded by smaller, independent distributors.
Thus, Disney had an incentive simply to keep the unit, unless a buyer was willing to post a high bid, either because it believed that technologies like Blu-Ray would expand home video sales in the near future or because it could afford to pay a premium to enter a glamour business.