Contreras-Sweet-led group close to buying Weinstein Co.

BY  | FROM  | 2018-02-06 20:01

It is poetic justice that a woman is stepping into Harvey Weinstein's shoes, as an investment group led by former U.S. Small Business Administration chief, Maria Contreras-Sweet, closes in on an acquisition of The Weinstein Company (TWC).

The Variety magazine reported Monday that insiders close to the deal expected it to close this week, in a move that would make Contreras-Sweet one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood.

Her sister Ana Barbosa, quoted also by Variety, said, "The investors thought she would complement their efforts. They saw her as a person who could run it. They were willing to put the money up front."

Last November, Contreras-Sweet made a 500 million U.S. dollar offer (275 million dollars in equity, 225 million dollars in debt) to purchase Weinstein's beleaguered, scandal-rocked film company.

Contreras-Sweet may come to the position as a Hollywood outsider with no entertainment industry experience, but she is a quick learner and her bid is being backed by venture cap billionaire, Ron Burkle, who is no stranger to the corridors of power in Hollywood.

If Contreras-Sweet is to turn the company around, her task will be a daunting one. Once the indie powerhouse of Hollywood, the TWC has fallen into disrepute in the face of mounting alleged sex scandals as dozens of women and former employees have accused the former co-owner, Harvey Weinstein, of sexual misconduct and abuse.

Harvey's brother, Bob, will spin off Dimension Films, Weinstein's genre label, for himself, and also retain the soon-to-be-released feature of "Polaroid," while Contreras-Sweet and her investment group will keep the highly-prized 277-film Weinstein library, five other unreleased films, and 50 seasons of TV programming.

Once the deal goes through, Contreras-Sweet purportedly will plan to downsize the New York City operation, while ramping up the Los Angeles and London offices.

But the real question in everyone's mind is: can the company throw off its tarnished legacy of sexual misconduct and a misogynistic corporate culture?

Contreras-Sweet said she intended to staff up with more female executives and make her corporate culture a safer work environment for women, though her first pick for CEO is reported to be David Glasser, the TWC's current President and a close friend of Harvey Weinstein's.

Contreras-Sweet came to the United States when she was just five years old, part of a hard-working, but struggling Mexican family in search of the American Dream, at a time when immigrants from south of the border were more welcome.

Described as having "tremendous style, and charm and class and intelligence" by Chairman of the University of California Board of Regents George Kieffer, Contreras-Sweet rose through the ranks as California's secretary of business, transportation, and housing under Governor Gray Davis, then founding chairwoman of ProAmerica Bank, then ultimately head of Obama's Small Business Administration before stepping into the Hollywood spotlight.

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