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Sorry, Ryan Kavanaugh. Maker Studios says it is going with Disney.
In a statement, a Maker spokesperson says, “As per the announcement made on March 24, Maker Studios has entered into a merger agreement with The Walt Disney Company. The agreement has been approved by Maker Studios’ Board of Directors and the majority of its shareholders and is expected to close in the next few weeks, subject to regulatory approval.”
Last week, Maker Studios ex-CEO Danny Zappin attempted to get a restraining order over a vote on the $500 million sale of the digital video studio to Disney. But the company subsequently told a judge its Disney deal has already been approved.
On Monday, a judge denied the restraining motion anyway.
The development could be disappointing to Relativity, which has gone public with an offer to pay $525 million in stock for Maker. Relativity was also willing to kick in up to $500 million more in performance bonuses and according to some reports, another $75 million to retain key executives. Altogether, Relativity’s offer seems to be better than Disney’s, which is valued at up to $950 million.
But Relativity’s offer appears to have come too late for the suddenly much-in-demand Maker, which is responsible for producing many viral videos on YouTube including Epic Rap Battles of History. Among the Culver City company’s early investors are Time Warner, Robert Downey Jr. and Avatar producer Jon Landau.
Relativity will now look elsewhere.
“We made a compelling offer and believe Maker Studios, its employees and its roster of talent would have greatly benefited from Relativity’s platform, its entrepreneurial approach and promising growth potential,” says a Relativity spokesperson in response to Maker’s statement about the Disney deal approval. “We will continue to aggressively explore future opportunities that align with our strategy to accelerate digital content creation and distribution.”
As for Zappin, word of the green light to Disney is hardly good news for him either (although he still retains a good amount of the company’s common stock). The former top executive is suing the company and most of its board members over an alleged coup that forced him out of power in favor of former Endemol chief Ynon Kreiz.
Maker doesn’t believe there’s any merit to Zappin’s claim and as the lawsuit drags on, the company’s controllers agreed to sell it to Disney. The case will continue.