UPDATE 11 AM: The Walt Disney Co. just issued the following statement relating to the complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney on May 26 in New York:
The Walt Disney Company has been fully cooperating with this investigation. The reference in the complaint to conversations regarding the ABC Network were and are false.
PREVIOUS 10:15 AM: In what is turning out to be a pretty bizarre story, an insider trading arrest may hold clues to Disney’s plans for selling ABC. A potential sale had been rumored for awhile and as recently as March Disney CEO Bob Iger said that “there are no guarantees in terms of what will remain part of our company and what will not” when asked whether Disney will sell the broadcast network. But now a criminal complaint and a SEC civil suit stemming from the Wednesday arrest of a Disney employee by the FBI in Los Angeles alleges such plans may be more advanced than previously thought.
According to a CNBC report, the legal complaints state that Bonnie Hoxie, secretary to the head of Disney’s corporate communications, and her boyfriend Yonni Sebbag, allegedly offered hedge funds information about Disney’s quarterly earnings report, due out in May. The most intriguing part of the couple’s claims: that Iger was in “serious and advanced negotiations” with two private equity firms to sell ABC. According to CNBC, the two were arrested after attempting to sell the information to undercover FBI agents, for which they allegedly accepted a $15,000 payment. As for ABC itself, it’s expected to go for $6B-$7B if put on the market. UPDATED: In yet another bizarre twist to the story, Hoxie allegedly wanted the money to buy “a $700 McCartney handbag and Stella McCartney shoes,” according to the complaint.
UPDATE WRITE-THRU: Why did Disney’s sale of Miramax Films to Ron Burkle and Bob and Harvey Weinstein implode at the last moment? It’s become a real Rashomon. One version is that as lawyers put the finishing touches on a deal worth … Read More »
Carl Icahn has extended his offer to Lionsgate shareholders to 8 PM on June 1, but his campaign seems to be losing steam. He had 7 million shares, or 6.3% of the company tendered two weeks ago, but now is down … Read More »
BREAKING NEWS! The studio just filed a 14D-9 a few minutes ago announcing that “settlement discussions” with Carl Icahn have begun. A sources tells me that the corporate raider/shareholder activist came to Lionsgate “and wanted to talk. LG has a fiduciary responsibility to listen. He is their second largest shareholder and they will … Read More »
This is little more than a PR maneuver by Lionsgate. Since both a British Columbia regulatory commission as well as a British Columbia Appeals Court have ruled that the studio can’t use a poison pill defense against Carl Icahn’s attempted takeover. … Read More »
Within the next hour, Jeff Zucker will be sitting down with Los Angeles-based showbiz journalists for one of his annual off-the-record sessions. But the NBCU chief plans on demonstrating he’s a new and supposedly improved Zucker. A nicer Zucker. And not … Read More »
UPDATE: The rumors keep flying about where Bob Berney will land. Deadline has already posted Team Harvey’s denial that the ex-Apparitions chief is headed to the Weinsteins. At least not yet. (Berney Exit Blindsides Apparition) Now the latest chatter is that Berney … Read More »
UPDATE: Insiders are denying the rumor that Bob Berney is going to work with Harvey and Bob Weinstein. I’m told there haven’t been any talks — yet. Meanwhile, I’ve learned that Berney has the ability to take key staffers with him wherever he’s … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: We hear the deal to put the Miramax name and library under new ownership is done. But the reason there is no announcement is that Harvey Weinstein wants to make a publicity splash at the Cannes Film Festival which kicks off Wednesday. [… Read More »
Today, Lionsgate issued a statement that its shareholders had “rejected” the $7 a share tender offer by Carl Icahn to acquire up to all of Lionsgate’s common shares in his bid for a hostile takeover of the studio. But that’s not new. We knew that he had not received the … Read More »
Meet Wang Zhongjun, China’s 50-year old film and television mogul, 1/2 of Huayi Brothers Media which he founded with his youngest brother Wang Zhonglei in 1994. (Ergo, CNN’s Harvey Weinstein comparison.) Originally doing advertising commissions, the company morphed into a film production company in 1998 and has grown to become … Read More »
UPDATE: Drama, drama, drama! (And fast drama.) First, the British Columbia Court of Appeals today granted Lionsgate’s request to reexamine the British Columbia Securities Commission’s decision to stop the studio from using a poison pill defense against Carl Icahn’s attempted hostile … Read More »
Bloomberg.com is reporting that MGM creditors are canvassing Hollywood execs to run a studio the creditors would keep rather than sell off at fire sale price. The report lists Peter Chernin, Jonathan Dolgen, Spyglass partners Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber as execs who’ve met recently. Joe Roth, Rick Sands … Read More »
UPDATE: First, Steven Spielberg spent an hour at lunch today with Jeffrey Katzenberg at the Universal commissary. Then Spielberg walked over and sat down at the table where Jeff Zucker and Adam Fogelson were talking after having meals with others. Look, if I have to explain the backstories among these players, … Read More »
Today was supposed to be the deadline for Carl Icahn’s $7 per share tender offer made to Lionsgate stockholders. But stockholders were cold to the proposal: only 6.55 million shares have been tendered so far. I don’t think the … Read More »
Here we go again! (See video below) Just now, on CNBC, Carl Icahn responded to Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns on-air boasts that studio management “crushed the numbers” and its current model is working. “The information Lionsgate is giving us is a sham,” … Read More »