Miramax Owners in Talks to Sell Company

  • Qatar-based broadcaster seeks library of Oscar winners
  • `Shakespeare in Love,' `Good Will Hunting' in play with talks

Actor John Travolta and director Quentin Tarantino in a publicity still for the Miramax movie 'Pulp Fiction' in September 1994 in Los Angeles, California.

Photographer: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Billionaire Thomas Barrack Jr. and other investors in the Miramax film company, the owner of Oscar-winning movies including “Shakespeare in Love,” are in exclusive talks to sell the business to Qatar-based broadcaster BeIN Media Group, people with knowledge of the matter said.

A sale could be completed by the end of the year, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. BeIN Media Group was formed in January 2014 in a spinoff from Qatar’s Al Jazeera Media Network. The current owners of Miramax bought the company for $660 million in 2010.
A deal would give BeIN a foothold in Hollywood as it works to diversify from sports into general entertainment programming. Though older films, Miramax pictures like “Good Will Hunting” and “Pulp Fiction” continue to be popular fare on U.S. television.

The owners of Miramax, which include a unit of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, hired Morgan Stanley to seek a buyer in early September. The parties have held off sending out marketing materials during the exclusive talks with BeIN Media, the people said.

Miramax was founded in 1979 by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein and sold to Walt Disney Co. in 1993. Disney sold the business in 2010 to a group that included a unit of the Qatar Investment Authority and Colony Capital. The owners saw the film library of some 700 titles, including best picture winner “No Country for Old Men,” as an attractive investment.

Miramax also has taken a role in new films, including “Mr. Holmes,” which stars Ian McKellen as an aged Sherlock Holmes who gets drawn into an unsolved case. He’s been touted for a possible Academy Award nomination for the role.

In October, BeIN Media said it was positioning itself as the only comprehensive pay TV entertainment player in the Middle East and North Africa region, offering a package of sports, family channels and Hollywood movies. It has channels in 24 countries, including the U.S., Europe, Middle East and Africa. The company was formed in January 2014 as the holding company of BeIN Sports, the sports channels spun off from Qatar’s Al Jazeera Media Network, according to its website.

BeIN Media, based in Doha, Qatar, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Kat Kleiner, a spokeswoman for Miramax , declined to comment.