Disney, Gores brothers renew Miramax talks

Move comes after negotiations with Weinsteins are called off

Disney is renewing talks with the Gores brothers for the acquisition of Miramax after exclusive negotiations with the Weinsteins and their investor Ron Burkle were called off.

Investors Alec and Tom Gores -- advised by their brother Sam, who heads the Paradigm agency -- reportedly bid about $600 million for Miramax, but that was below the $625 million that had been offered by the Weinstein/Burkle group and the $650 million bid by a group advised by Pangea Group CEO David Bergstein.

It is believed that Disney prefers to deal with the Gores because of Bergstein's highly publicized legal troubles.

Regarding the Weinstein talks, Burkle apparently decided that $625 million was too high and asked for a reduction. That's when talks broke down, and Disney -- which has sought $700 million for Miramax -- called off the exclusive negotiating period.

Burkle, who runs the Yucaipa Cos., is known as a savvy investor who specializes in distressed assets. He buys companies in trouble, fixes them and operates or sells them for a higher value. With Miramax, it appears he already was at the high end of what he considered its value.

Meanwhile, the Gores also are moving ahead with a bid to acquire Overture Films and related assets, including the Anchor Bay home entertainment arm and animation companies, from Liberty Media. That deal is expected to be for about $300 million.

The Gores' vision is to use the Overture management, pay TV slots, home video and other distribution capability to launch a company that could hit the ground running and maximize the value of the Miramax assets. However, there are at least two other bidders circling the Liberty assets, including a big investment group and a "strategic buyer," meaning a group already involved in the movie business.

One reason the Weinsteins' backers believe they aren't done with Miramax is that whoever buys it will have to deal with Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who retained certain rights when they sold the company to Disney. The new buyer would have to work with the brothers to make certain sequels, for example.

A source said that the Weinsteins have worked out an agreement with Burkle and investors at Fortress Colbeck that would keep Miramax separate from the Weinstein Co., a stipulation Burkle insists on.
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