EXCLUSIVE: New Bankers in Miramax Sale

The $660 million acquisition of Miramax Films from Disney by Filmyard Holdings -- led by investors Ronald Tutor and Tom Barrack of Colony Capital -- remains on track to close by year's end. However, there's been a significant shift in financing.

Barclays Bank will lead a $250 million loan syndication, with Jefferies & Co. as co-lender. The pairing replaces Comerica, Union Bank and Bank of America as the financing's lead lenders; all three have exited the transaction.

Barclays and Jefferies have considerably less experience in Hollywood finance than do the three departing lenders.

Meantime, rumors abound about continuing disagreements about the valuation of Miramax's 611-title film library. Disney originally wanted a price close to $700 million, while most earlier investors valued the library at no more than $550 million.

Sources said Tuesday that the $660 million price will be reduced by about $50 million in cash on hand and existing sales contracts to license movies from the library worth more than $100 million. That would mean the investors have to come up with $250 million-$300 million in equity, with the remaining portion funded by bank debt.

In addition to Tutor and Barrack, the Miramax deal's other investors include New York philanthropist Jerome Schwartz and Rob Lowe (through an investment venture the actor created with Barrack).

Former News Corp. executive Mike Lang reportedly has been approached to serve as Miramax CEO. No executive appointments are expected to be finalized or announced until after the deal closes.

Disney had been expected to release several Miramax movies before the final sale on behalf of the buyers. But after the August release of box-office disappointment The Switch, Disney said it would not release other Miramax titles including The Debt and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. It now appears those films will be handled by other distributors after the sale closes.

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