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Valley of the deals

July 14, 2006

Every July since 1983, Idaho's posh Sun Valley Resort has become a summer camp of sorts for media, technology and financial moguls. Between presentations, forums, tennis, golf and cocktail parties, some key deals are struck. Here is a sample of watershed moments through the years from the confab, which runs through Saturday, hosted by investment banker Herbert Allen Jr.

Opening serve

Turner Broadcasting System's $200-million acquisition of Castle Rock Entertainment was hatched in 1993 when Scott Sassa, then Turner's entertainment chief, played tennis with Alan Horn, co-founder of Castle Rock.

Parking lot rendezvous

Walt Disney Co. bought Capital Cities/ABC Inc. for $19 billion after a chance 1995 encounter in a parking lot of Disney's then-Chief Executive Michael Eisner, Capital Cities board member Warren Buffett and Cap Cities chief Tom Murphy.

Bargaining for BET

In 1999, after rebuffing an offer from Viacom Inc., Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson met in Sun Valley with other prospective buyers including Disney and Fox. At the same time, Viacom chief Sumner Redstone got a green light for the acquisition from a key BET shareholder, Liberty Media Corp., at a meeting with Liberty chief John Malone in his condominium. Viacom bought BET four months later for nearly $3 billion.

Internet connection

The first year he attended the conference, in 1999, Yahoo Inc. co-founder Jerry Yang met then-Warner Bros. co-chief Terry Semel during lunch by the duck pond. Three years later, when Yang asked Semel to take the helm of Yahoo, Semel, by then retired from Warner Bros., told him he didn't want a full-time job but soon reconsidered.

Poolside pricing

Media maverick Haim Saban bought a lavish Acapulco estate called Villa Eden from Time Warner Inc. after agreeing on a $7-million price with then-Time Warner president and now CEO Richard Parsons at a poolside dinner party in 2000.

Hotel handshake

Disney bought what is now known as the ABC Family channel for

$5.2 billion after a handshake deal in 2001 in a conference room at the Sun Valley Inn involving Disney's Eisner, News Corp. President Peter Chernin and Saban. News Corp. and Saban were 50-50 owners of the channel.

Divorce mediation

In 2004, Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein and Eisner, then Disney's chief, had not spoken for a year. William Morris Agency chief Jim Wiatt brought them together by the duck pond, paving the way for a deal that ended Disney's 12-year alliance with the Weinstein brothers.

Pacing the halls

This week, BET founder Johnson said he and Miramax's Weinstein had finalized a deal while walking "up and down the hallways" of the inn. Their new film company has $175 million in backing.

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Source: Times research

Los Angeles Times

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