Relativity Media Places a Bid on Maker Studios

/ Apr 14, 2014

RelativityMedia2013

It seems everyone wants Maker Studios these days.

Relativity Media, the studio behind films such as “The Social Network” and “Immortals,” has made a bid to buy the YouTube multi-channel giant — a few weeks after Disney came in with an acquisition offer and a few days before Maker’s shareholders were scheduled vote on the offer.

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Relativity’s bid is for $900 million, $500 million of which would be upfront in the form of the studio’s stock, with an additional $400 million (also in stock) provided that Maker meets certain financial targets. There’s also a $100 million “bonus pool” for certain “key” Maker executives and talent.

UPDATE: Variety reports that Relativity has revised its offer to $1.1 billion — $525 million in initial stock, an additional $500 million in performance-based payouts, and a $75 million “bonus pool.”

The studio’s offer came in the form of a letter sent to the MCN’s board of directors late Sunday night.

“Relativity’s proposal fully values Maker Studios while providing its shareholders far more upside potential for growth than the Disney offer,” Relativity said in a statement.

Disney’s offer was for $500 million in cash, with the potential for $450 million in additional earn-out payments.

Maker Studios shareholders are expected to vote tomorrow on the Disney acquisition.

That is, unless a California judge sides with former company CEO Danny Zappin, who along with several other former Maker execs filed a lawsuit last week to delay or prevent the vote from happening. Zappin has essentially been embroiled in a custody battle for Maker Studios, accusing the Maker board of various breaches of fiduciary duties and corporate embezzlement.

Relativity, meanwhile, has been looking into developing more digital-only (or digital-first) projects. A few months ago the studio hired Roger Mincheff to oversee the newly formed Relativity Digital Studios unit.

Relativity’s bid for Maker Studios, while eye-opening, could be for nothing. Per WSJ, a binding agreement may already be in place between Disney and Maker Studios. That said, even if Relativity is unable to spoil Disney’s acquisition of Maker Studios (if Zappin doesn’t do it, either), it at least indicates the studio’s interest in the MCN space. Which should be good news for any other MCNs that are also looking for exits.

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