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Rescue deal for Weinstein Co resurrected

An investor group led by former Obama administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet has agreed to buy the assets of embattled US film and TV producer The Weinstein Company (TWC).

Harvey Weinstein

The unexpected development comes only a few days after TWC said it had no choice but to file for bankruptcy after talks to sell its assets to Contreras-Sweet’s investor group collapsed.

This came after New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against TWC following an investigation into disgraced producer and company co-founder Harvey Weinstein.

However, the board of directors at TWC – Tarak Ben Ammar, Lance Maerov and Bob Weinstein – have now confirmed the deal to sell the company’s assets to Contreras-Sweet’s investor group, which is backed by US billionaire Ron Burkle.

“We are pleased to announce that we have entered into an agreement to sell the assets of The Weinstein Company to an investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet and Ron Burkle,” said the board.

“The deal provides a clear path for compensation for victims and protects the jobs of our employees. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Attorney General Schneiderman and his staff, Maria Contreras-Sweet, Ron Burkle and his team at Yucaipa for bringing about this agreement. We consider this to be a positive outcome under what have been incredibly difficult circumstances.”

Contreras-Sweet said in a statement her aim is to build a studio whose board of directors has a majority of independent women and to create a victims’ compensation fund. She added that the deal should also save around 150 jobs and protect the small businesses that are owed money.

“The cornerstone of our plan has been to launch a new company that represents the best practices in corporate governance and transparency. This next step represents the best possible pathway to support victims and protect employees,” said Contreras-Sweet.

Harvey Weinstein is accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, by more than 80 women and was sacked from the company in October last year. Weinstein, who founded TWC with his brother Robert in 2005, has denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.

The scandal surrounding TWC brought about the #metoo campaign on social media and has also sparked a wave of sexual misconduct accusations levelled at figures including Kevin Spacey, Ed Westwick, Louis CK, Roy Price and John Lassiter.

More than 300 actresses, writers and directors have also given their backing to an initiative to help fight sexual harassment in Hollywood and other workplaces in the wake of the scandal.

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