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Weinstein Co. hires consulting firm to restructure its debt and raise funds

The move, which is likely to further fuel speculation about its financial condition, is portrayed by the film studio as routine.

June 06, 2009|Richard Verrier

In a move that is likely to further fuel speculation about its financial condition, Weinstein Co. has hired consulting firm Miller Buckfire & Co. to restructure its debt and raise funds to cover operating costs, said a person close to the company.

The film studio behind such critically acclaimed movies as "The Reader" has struggled to find its footing since brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein formed their own company in 2005 after parting ways with Walt Disney Co. The company has faced a string of executive departures and laid off about two dozen workers late last year.

In a statement, the studio portrayed the move as routine. "As a matter of practice we have always worked with financial institutions to explore our options with respect to equity and possible investments and it is something we will continue to do," the statement said. "This was an ordinary course we took at Miramax, the Weinstein Company and every business venture we have had in our 30-year career."

When they launched the business, the brothers tapped Goldman, Sachs & Co as a financial backer with the goal of raising as much as $1 billion in financing.

Despite distributing such well-reviewed films as "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," the Weinsteins have struggled to replicate the kind of hits for which they were known earlier in their careers, such as "Pulp Fiction" and "Shakespeare in Love," when they operated Miramax.

The studio is counting on a lift this year from such movies as Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" and Rob Marshall's "Nine," starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz.

After a costly yearlong court battle, Weinstein Co. agreed in April to pay NBC Universal a multimillion-dollar settlement of a lawsuit over the reality show "Project Runway." Last year NBC Universal, the owner of Bravo, sued Weinstein Co., the producer of the show, for breach of contract, claiming that the company had unlawfully sold the show to Lifetime.

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richard.verrier@latimes.com

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