With some help from NY A.G. Eric Schneiderman's office, the beleaguered Weinstein Co. board and a group of investors have struck a $500 million deal to sell most of the studio's assets to an investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet.
The studio almost went bankrupt after more than 70 women accused co-founder Harvey Weinstein, then one of Hollywood's most influential men, of sexual misconduct including rape.
"The deal provides a clear path for compensation for victims and protects the jobs of our employees", the Weinstein Co. board said in a statement.
Last month, the Weinstein studio almost closed an alleged $500 million offer from investors led by Contreras-Sweet and Burkle, but the negotiations reportedly derailed after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit alleging the company had failed to respond to sexual harassment complaints from employees. "We consider this to be a positive outcome under what have been incredibly hard circumstances".
Contreras-Sweet said her intention was to "build a movie studio led by a board of directors made up of a majority of independent women, save about 150 jobs, protect the small businesses who are owed money and create a victims' compensation fund". Weinstein denies ever engaging in non-consensual sex.
Her Thursday night statement came just four days after the would-be sellers, the Weinstein Co. board, said that the deal had fallen apart.
Former Small Business Administration chief Maria Contreras-Sweet has promised a sweeping set of reforms to bring the powerhouse studio back to life.
As the sale agreement was announced, Schneiderman released a statement saying the new owners have committed to "a well-funded victims compensation fund" and to implementing "HR policies that will protect all employees, and will not unjustly reward bad actors".
The A.G. also said that his lawsuit "remains active and investigation remains ongoing at this time". The sale deal includes a commitment from the buyers to establish a compensation fund of up to $90-million for Weinstein's accusers. Carreras-Sweet said it would have "a new board and a new vision that embodies the principles that we have stood by since we began this process last fall".
The unexpected development comes only a few days after TWC said it had no choice but to file for bankruptcy after talks to sell its assets to Contreras-Sweet's investor group collapsed. Weinstein's subsequent fall led to him being fired by his own company with his name above the door, as well as triggered the first steps of what became the #MeToo movement.
NY state attorney general Eric Schneiderman stipulated last month that any deal should provide adequate compensation for victims, protect employees and remove executives who had been complicit in Weinstein's misconduct.
According to a spokesman for the investor group, most of the employees who remain at Weinstein Co. will be offered positions with the new company.
"I have had a long-standing commitment to fostering women ownership in business", she said. He also said the deal would potentially keep in place top executives accused of enabling Weinstein's alleged abuse of the company's female employees.
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