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Mesa Global Emergies as Miramax Bidder

(Reuters) – Mesa Global, an investment banking firm co-founded by former Creative Artists Agency executive Mark Patricof, has emerged as a potential bidder for Walt Disney Co’s Miramax film unit ahead of an offer deadline on Friday, said sources familiar with the matter.

Representatives for Mesa and Disney declined to comment, but various industry sources said pricing could prohibit any near-term deal due to views that Disney’s asking price of more than $650 million for Miramax is too high.

The bid deadline for Miramax comes as binding offers for another storied Hollywood studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, also come due on Friday.

Platinum Equity Partners, a Beverly Hills investment firm headed by Tom Gores, is also expected to bid for Miramax, the independent company behind such art-house fare as “Pulp Fiction” and “No Country for Old Men,” sources said.

Weinstein Co, headed by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who launched Miramax in 1979 and then sold it to Disney in 1993, would also bid, other sources said.

Sources have said Disney is seeking more than $650 million for Miramax, which it bought from the Weinsteins for $80 million, but that several initially interested parties, like Summit Entertainment and Lions Gate Entertainment, have balked at the price. It was unclear if Lions Gate is still interested, but Summit is no longer interested, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Disney, Summit, Mesa, Lions Gate, Platinum and the Weinstein Co declined to comment.

According to the company’s website, Mesa’s Patricof has worked on various entertainment industry transactions and has extensive experience in Hollywood on digital initiatives, including a stint at Creative Artists Agency.

The sources said Mesa was packaging a buyer for Miramax that involves both a strategic and private equity bidder.

Back in February, the Weinstein Co confirmed its interest in Miramax. After selling Miramax to Disney in 1993, the Weinsteins remained as co-chief executives until five years ago, when they left to form the Weinstein Co.

A source familiar with the situation said the Weinsteins had been approached by financial partners to help them purchase Miramax, but details about their financing were unclear.

Sources said an earlier round of non-binding bids for MGM went as high as $1.7 billion, but bidders are unlikely to put in second round offers above $1.5 billion after studying its assets like a library of mostly older gems like the James Bond and Pink Panther franchises.

MGM’s creditors may also decide to keep and restructure the studio, possibly filing for pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, sources have said. MGM is owned by a group including private equity firms TPG, Providence Equity Partners, DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group, and media companies Sony Corp and Comcast Corp.

(Reporting by Sue Zeidler; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Richard Chang)