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Miramax Deal “95%” Done: Only “Couple” Of Deal Terms And Timing Issues Remaining

UPDATES Former Disney CFO Richard Nanula Now Leading Ron Tutor’s Miramax Negotiations; Deal Could Close In A Week

miramax_logo_blackI couldn’t agree more with a  Disney insider who just told me, “We could all have a nice vacation in Tahiti if there was a dollar for every time this deal was reported as done.” So here’s what I know about how close this deal actually is between Disney and the Ron Tutor/Colony Capital/James Robinson partnership. It’s “95% just about done,” an insider tells me. “A couple of deal terms and timing issues remain. Like when does the deal actually close? When do all of the contingencies Disney needs to deliver get cleared? Right now there’s not really a Miramax because it’s been comingled with other Disney assets. So what has to happen is those assets have to go in and out so that the partnership can end up buying Miramax with clean assets and no liabilities. By tomorrow we could have a deal in principle. But it’ll be up to Disney to decide when to sign it and announce it.” Still, this is incredibly speedy considering that Colony Capital only a week ago entered the deal as a big equity provider matching construction magnate Ron Tutor’s equity of several hundred million dollars. Colony Capital will receive Miramax board seats as a result.

And here’s what I know about the price being paid. “The headline … Read More »

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Former Disney CFO Richard Nanula Now Leading Ron Tutor’s Miramax Negotiations; “Bullet Train” Deal Could Close In A Week; Disney May Get Its $700M Asking Price; Harvey Weinstein Threatening Lawsuit

miramax_logo_blackEXCLUSIVE – UPDATED FROM 8:30 AM: Forget the bizarre involvement of David Bergstein, and Morgan Creek’s James Robinson, and even Rob Lowe. (I know, I know… I’ve learned Lowe may pull in Arnold Schwarzenegger post-November.) More on them in a minute. But they’re just the side show. Instead, I can report that, 5 days ago, Santa Monica-based Colony Capital, the private international investment firm which currently has $30 billion of assets under its management, was brought in by construction magnate Ron Tutor to help him buy Miramax from Disney. The reason? Because two years ago, Colony Capital president Tom Barrack hired 12-year Disney popular executive and former CFO Richard Nanula who’s now leading the Tutor negotiations with the Mouse House point man on the Miramax sale, Kevin Mayer, who’s EVP for Disney’s Corporate Strategy in the Business Development and Technology Group.

So, for the past five days, Nanula has organized a team of “25 guys working on it 24 hours a day” to get the deal done “like a bullet train”, I’ve learned — maybe as soon as next week. My insiders tell me that Disney could get very near to the $700 million price it’s recently wanted for Miramax — a big raise from the $625M, maybe even $650M max, which the Weinstein brothers/Ron Burkle/Fortress-Colbeck partnership seemed ready to pay until talks broke down. The reason is that Nanula and his team have now confirmed from due diligence that Miramax is sitting on a lot of cash, as much as $300M in receivables. That’s more than even the Weinstein partnership told me was out there.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned that Harvey is a Barrack pal, and the Weinstein bro is spitting mad that Tutor now looks to snag Miramax with Colony Capital’s help. “Harvey is very agitated,” an insider tells me. “He’s threatening litigation everywhere.” That’s vintage Harv: when he loses, he sues. Of course, the Weinstein brothers wanted to reclaim their former company because of its sentimental value: it’s named after their parents, Miriam and Max. To that end, I’ve previously reported how Harvey privately is warning to screw over anyone even thinking of buying Miramax. Under their exit deal in 2005, the Weinstein bros were able to retain a hold over sequel or reboot rights to films like Scream, Spy Kids and some other Dimension titles. Harv, in his inimitable way, has said he’ll do what he can to make developing those projects a nightmare.

Because the Tutor group has signed a non-disclosure agreement and entered into an exclusive negotiating period with Disney, no one is publicly commenting on anything. From Disney’s POV, it’s “still negotiating” with the Tutor group. But its comfort level has vastly improved now that Nanula has taken charge. The Harvard alum was the youngest CFO of a Fortune 500 company when he took the fiscal reins of the $22B corporation. He left in 1998 to become president and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts to work for his best friend Barry Sternlicht. Then Barrack snatched him up 2 years ago. Barrack, too, has tangential Disney ties. He worked with Robert Bass, one of the Texas billionaire Bass brothers whose 1983 investment rescued the Hollywood studio.

Meanwhile, on Nanula’s team is also Justin Chang whom Barrack hired in April as a principal responsible for extending the Colony brand into complementary areas. Chang most recently served as a partner of TPG Capital, the international private investment firm which took a bath on MGM.

I’ve learned that Tutor first approached Barrack last week “because he was queasy about the existing guys he had,” an insider tells me. “especially about David and the baggage he brings.” Before Tutor brought in Colony Capital, he was being advised by two of Hollywood’s most controversial and disliked figures: not just troubled film financier/distributor David Bergstein, whose film companies this year were placed in involuntary bankruptcy; but also his good friend, Morgan Creek’s James Robinson whose company has a mediocre track record. I understand that both men are being pushed aside now. Read More »

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Colony Capital Plans $500M Media Fund

By | Thursday July 1, 2010 @ 10:09am PDT

I’ve confirmed that Tom Barrack, president of California-based Colony Capital, is putting together a $500M media fund with of all people TV star Rob Lowe and a couple of other investors. Barrack, whose real estate investment firm co-owns Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch and stepped in to bail out photographer Annie Leibovitz after she couldn’t meet interest payments on a $24 million loan and faced losing her home, invests in entertainment businesses with a bricks-and-mortar component such as casinos or cinema chains (the Mars in Turkey). Colony Capital currently has $30 billion of assets under management.

Barrack and Lowe have been discussing their unnamed fund for some years but so far have bought nothing except for a new round of media attention during a recent London visit. “Barrack brought Rob the idea that there are a lot of media properties that need financing,” one insider tells me. They were spotted entering the fashionable C restaurant – Madonna’s favourite – to meet its owner Flavio Briatore, the Italian entrepreneur whose yacht was seized last month by Italian police for tax evasion. Lowe and Barrack were later seen at a party given by tennis star Boris Becker.

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Capitol Films Cash Crunch: SAG Demands Meeting With Owner David Bergstein

EXCLUSIVE: The following email was sent this month by the Screen Actors Guild to David Bergstein, the owner of Capitol Films, whose financial meltdown has been crushing indie after indie while he reportedly was lounging on a yacht during the Cannes Film Festival. It confirms all my recent reporting:

To: David Bergstein
Screen Actors Guild
Subject: Request for Meeting
Dear Mr. Bergstein:
We understand that Capitol Films and Capco Group are intending to start principal photography on a film entitled Labor Pains on June 2, 2008, utilizing the services of Screen Actors Guild-covered performers. Capitol recently encountered difficulties meeting its contractual obligations to the Screen Actors Guild in connection with projects entitled Nailed, and Love Ranch. Screen Actors Guild performers have also been adversely affected on a Canadian production connected to your companies entitled Bad Meat. Our New York office advised that preparations for your film entitled An Invisible Sign of My Own have ceased. This appears to be a repeated and snowballing problem. It would be in the interest of all parties to meet as soon as possible regarding the financial assurances that Screen Actors Guild will require from Capitol and its related companies on future productions. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, Labor Pains. We would like to discuss these issues with you directly, along with any representatives you may want to include in the meeting. Please advise when you are available to meet with us at our national offices in Los Angeles. I look forward to hearing from

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