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Lionsgate drops out of bidding for Miramax stake

Santa Monica-based film and TV studio Lionsgate has dropped its bid to acquire a stake in Miramax, the Qatari-owned company behind films including “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love,” according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment publicly.

Lionsgate’s decision appears to leave New York-based media company Viacom as the leading bidder for Miramax and its valuable catalog of more than 700 films. Viacom, which recently recombined with CBS Corp., remains in talks to buy Miramax but has not struck a deal, one person close to the situation said Wednesday.

Miramax’s owner, the Qatar-based broadcaster BeIN Media Group, has been seeking a buyer for a 50% stake in Miramax since June.

Lionsgate was among several companies that were in the mix for the Miramax stake, including Viacom and Spyglass Media Group, which controls the former assets of the Weinstein Co. Spyglass, run by former MGM chief Gary Barber, bowed out of the bidding process earlier this year, people familiar with the situation said.

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Miramax’s library of films would have been a natural fit for Lionsgate, best known for the “John Wick,” “Saw” and “Hunger Games” movies. But the company has opted to focus on its core businesses rather than pursue the acquisition, a person familiar with the matter said. Shares of Lionsgate, which owns the pay-TV network Starz, rose 68 cents, or 6%, to $11.69 on Wednesday.

Representatives from Miramax and Viacom did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Lionsgate spokesman declined to comment.

Miramax was founded by Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob Weinstein in 1979. The company dominated the indie film landscape in the 1990s.

The Weinsteins sold Miramax, named for their parents Miriam and Max, to Walt Disney Co. in 1993. They left in 2005 after a bitter dispute with Disney over creative control, and then formed the Weinstein Co. in New York.

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In 2010, an investor group led by real estate magnate Ron Tutor, Colony Capital and Qatar bought Miramax for $660 million. Tutor later sold his stake. BeIN acquired the business from Colony in 2016.

The Weinstein brothers’ next company, Weinstein Co., collapsed after Harvey Weinstein was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and assault.