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Exclusive Media: Financial Backers Aren't Bailing Out

Guy East Nigel Sinclair - H 2014
AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Nigel Sinclair, left, and Guy East

Layoffs struck the company on Friday as co-chairmen Nigel Sinclair and Guy East continue to negotiate their exit packages following losses stemming from "Rush."

While belt-tightening at Exclusive Media isn't over, backer Dasym Investment Strategies will continue to support the production, financing and sales outfit.

Dasym, a multi-billion Dutch hedge fund, owns a majority stake in Exclusive and is engineering a restructuring of the company that is expected to result in the departures of co-chairman and co-founders Nigel Sinclair and Guy East. On Friday, six to seven assistants across various divisions of Exclusive were laid off.

STORY: Will Exclusive Media Stop Releasing Films?

The changes underway at Exclusive were fueled in part by losses stemming from Ron Howard's Formula One drama Rush. Exclusive and Cross Creek Pictures co-financed the $50 million movie, with Exclusive putting up $30 million to market the film in the U.S. Losses are said to be upwards of $10 million.

"Collaborative and fruitful discussions between Exclusive Media’s management and Dasym Investment Strategies are ongoing. Dasym will continue its support of the company," Exclusive said in a statement issued in the wake of the layoffs. "Together we have taken steps to right size our operations. We anticipate making a formal announcement regarding the go forward plan for the company within the next few weeks."

Exclusive has several high-profile projects in the pipeline, including Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp.

East and Sinclair formed Exclusive in 2008 with Marc Shipper and Simon Oakes.

ANALYSIS: Berlin, How 'Rush' Losses Led to Exclusive Media Shakeup

There’s been conflict between East, Sinclair and Dasym higher-ups, including founder and CEO Frank Botman, since Rush underperformed at the U.S. box office last fall, taking in only $26.9 million. It did better overseas, earning $63.3 million, but that wasn’t enough to stem a loss.

Shipper, Exclusive’s COO, and Oakes, vice chairman of Exclusive, both have ties to Botman. In 2007, Oakes and Shipper bought iconic British horror label Hammer Films with backing from Cryte Investments, a predecessor to Dasym. A year later, again with Cryte’s help, they bought East and Sinclair’s Spitfire Pictures, which led to the formation of Exclusive. Today Oakes serves as CEO and president of Hammer.

Sinclair and East each have a stake in Exclusive and will have to be bought out.

As part of the downsizing, it's likely that Exclusive will close its tiny U.S. distribution arm, Exclusive Releasing.

Tatiana Siegel contributed to this report.