Disney seals deal to sell Miramax Films to investors for $660 million

The world's largest media and entertainment conglomerate, The Walt Disney Co, today said that it has agreed to sell its Miramax Films to a consortium of investors for about $660 million.

The entertainment company signed an agreement with Filmyard Holding, an investor group led by Los Angeles-based construction magnate Ronald Tutor. Other investors are real estate investment group Colony Capital and its CEO Tom Barrack.

The consortium yesterday made a non-refundable deposit of $40 million, which will which will kept in an escrow account until the consortium secures the necessary financing for the deal no later than 3 December 2010.

The sale ended the six-month bidding process and comes just two days after Disney announced that it would enter the social gaming business by proposing to acquire Playdom, a provider of online social games to social networking sites like Facebook, for as much as $763.2 million. (See: Walt Disney to acquire social games maker Playdom in a $763.2-mn deal) 

"Although we are very proud of Miramax's many accomplishments, our current strategy for Walt Disney Studios is to focus on the development of great motion pictures under the Disney, Pixar and Marvel brands," said Bob Iger, CEO of Disney in a statement.

Miramax has a library of films that include The Secret Policeman's Other Ball , Pulp Fiction, Heavenly Creatures and Shakespeare in Love, among others.

Film producer Miramax both produced and distributed films including foreign films over its 31-year history. It was founded in 1979 by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein and was acquired by Disney in 1993 for $80 million.

The Weinstein's continued to run Miramax until 2005, when they decided to leave the company after having differences with Disney CEO, Michael Eisner on creative and financial matters. They went on to launch The Weinstein Company.

The Weinstein brothers, who have controlling rights to some movies in Miramax' library, had tried to negotiate a deal backed by billionaire investor Ron Burkle to buy Miramax in May 2010, but talks had ended in failure.