How does a company teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and besieged by dozens of sexual assault allegations rebound? A former Obama administration official is trying to provide an answer after reaching a deal to buy the Weinstein Company‘s assets, Reuters reports.
Former Small Business Administration chief Maria Contreras-Sweet has promised a sweeping set of reforms to bring the powerhouse studio back to life. To start with, she plans to install a majority-female board and open a victims’ compensation fund under the umbrella of a new entertainment firm.
“This next step represents the best possible pathway to support victims and protect employees,” Contreras-Sweet told Reuters.
The deal, hammered out after lengthy negotiations, is reportedly backed by supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle.
The embattled Weinstein Company — known for producing titles such as Silver Linings Playbook, The King’s Speech and Django Unchained — has been struggling since more than 70 women came forward and accused film mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct including assault and rape. Weinstein denies ever engaging in non-consensual sex.
Last month, the Weinstein studio nearly 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. With the sale seemingly off the table and no other buyers apparent, the company said it planned to file for bankruptcy.
The buyout was resuscitated after the addition of a plan to make an $80-90 million compensation fund available. The new investors have also agreed to pay off the Weinstein Company’s estimated $225 million debt, a person familiar with the deal told the New York Times.
Neither Harvey Weinstein, nor his brother and the studio’s co-founder Bob, will receive money from the sale, according to the Times.
The Weinstein Co., a mainstay film and television production house since 2005, began looking for a financial lifeline since firing Harvey Weinstein last October.
In the wake of the public allegations against Weinstein, women in the entertainment industry reignited the #MeToo social media movement to call out sexual misconduct. Several other powerful men in media, entertainment and politics have since been held accountable for allegedly inappropriate behavior.