Tutor, Colony on track for Miramax buy

Delivering non-refundable $40 mil deposit to Disney today

Ronald Tutor and Colony Capital, leading a group seeking to acquire Miramax Films for $675 million, were expected to deliver a $40 million, non-refundable deposit to Disney on Wednesday, keeping the deal on track to close this week, sources said.

The sale price is $650 million, with the other $25 million a demand by Disney for a closing fee. Disney's asking price has been $700 million for months, as a number of potential buyers looked at the label.

Other potential buyers, including brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein in a bid backed by investor Ron Burkle, have valued the assets at a lower price. If the Tutor-Colony group closes the deal, that would appear to end the Weinsteins' quest to regain the label they created in 1979 and ran until 2005.

It remains unclear how much equity the acquisition group will put up and how much debt they will borrow from banks or third parties, such as another hedge fund. The buyers also are supposed to show Disney where all the money will come from to complete an agreement, according to Businessweek.

While Wednesday is the deadline for the $40 million deposit, a non-disclosure period and anticipated end of the buyer's due diligence ends at the end of the business day Thursday.

The buying group also includes a smaller equity investment by James Robinson of Morgan Creek Prods., which is expected to handle foreign sales for the new production and distribution company they plan to create. That company would sell rights to the Miramax library of 611 movies and produce new films as well.

It appears likely Disney will handle release of several Miramax movies on behalf of the buyers that have been on the shelf waiting for a resolution of the sale situation and that "Gnomeo and Juliet," an movie produced for Miramax/Disney by Starz Animation, will not be part of the sale.

Tutor has said that the group plans to hire an experienced executive to run the studio and that there would be no operational role for Pangea Media Group CEO David Bergstein, who brought him the deal and remains an adviser on the acquisition transaction.

Disney, Colony and Tutor did not respond to requests for comments.
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