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Deadline set for Miramax bids

Disney picks March 19, aims to close sale within 30 days

Hollywood’s dealmakers have a busy couple of weeks ahead of them.

One day after March 19 was set as the deadline for binding offers for MGM, the same date has emerged as a deadline in the latest round of bidding for Miramax. Disney hopes to select a winning bidder from offers received by that date and close on a sale of the one-time indie highflyer within 30 days of the deadline.

Interested parties offer conflicting takes on how heated interest in Miramax has been. Some say Disney’s suggested minimum bid of $700 million is overcooked by at least $200 million, and others claim sufficient interest to deliver offers of that level or higher.

Disney finally allowed some financial due diligence among prospective suitors during the past few weeks. But with the studio running the Miramax auction without the assistance of an outside consultant, Disney has been able to control information about individual bidders — and the Burbank studio’s ultimate intentions in the process.

“They’re keeping things tightly under wraps,” a rep of one interested party said Tuesday.

MGM, which is using Moelis & Co. to conduct its solicitation of bids, is racing against a March 31 deadline on a big interest payment owed by the studio. If no acceptable offer is secured by then, a bankruptcy reorganization of the Lion and its $3.7 billion in debt is likely.

Disney execs have no such gun to their heads in putting Miramax and its 700-title library up for sale. But the studio maintains hope of wrapping up its auction quickly, assuming one or more reasonable offer is secured by the bidding deadline.