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Female-led investor group says it is buying Weinstein Co assets

Posted by: Admin | Posted on: March 2nd, 2018 | 0 Comments

(Reuters) – A former Obama administration official said on Thursday she had reached a deal to purchase assets of The Weinstein Company and will use a majority-female board to rebuild the Hollywood studio tarnished by sexual misconduct allegations.

Former Small Business Administration chief Maria Contreras-Sweet said in a statement that she plans to launch a new company, save about 150 jobs, protect the small companies that are owed money, and create a victims’ compensation fund that will supplement existing insurance coverage for those who have been harmed.

“This next step represents the best possible pathway to support victims and protect employees,” Contreras-Sweet said in the statement. The Weinstein Company did not respond to a request for comment.

The company nearly went bankrupt after more than 70 women accused co-founder Harvey Weinstein, then one of Hollywood’s most influential men, of sexual misconduct including rape. Weinstein denies having non-consensual sex with anyone.

The company last month was close to inking a deal for more than $500 million to be taken over by investors led by Contreras-Sweet. That group included supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle.

But New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman upended the negotiations on Feb. 11 by filing a suit against the Weinstein Company, Harvey Weinstein and his brother, Bob, alleging that Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed employees and the company failed to respond. The company early this week said it planned to file for bankruptcy.

By Thursday evening, Contreras-Sweet said that Schneiderman had helped reach the deal.

A source familiar with the matter said attorneys were meeting in a conference room in Schneiderman’s office trying to finalize details as of early Thursday evening, and that the deal announced by Contreras-Sweet had not yet been signed.

The Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Launched in October 2005, the studio produced and distributed critically acclaimed hits including“The King’s Speech” and“Silver Linings Playbook.” Harvey Weinstein was known as the leading tastemaker for independent film and a master at Academy Awards campaigns.

His company also produced television series including the long-running fashion competition show“Project Runway.”

When the allegations against Harvey Weinstein became public, the company’s board fired him, and Hollywood heavyweights distanced themselves from the studio.

Since then, similar allegations have been leveled against many powerful men in business, politics and entertainment, and the #MeToo movement of victims has emerged, using social media to share their stories of harassment and abuse.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Greg Roumeliotis; Editing by Peter Henderson and Daniel Wallis

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