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Carolco Makes Offer to Buy De Laurentiis : Several Earlier Bidders for Ailing Movie Company Have Faded Away

Times Staff Writer

Carolco Pictures Inc., best known as the producer of the “Rambo” films, on Friday said it has made an offer to acquire De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, a motion picture company that sought the protection of federal bankruptcy court last August.

The terms of the bid weren’t disclosed, but Carolco President and Chief Executive Peter M. Hoffman said the offer is “competitive” with the $22-million bid that had been anticipated from a rival, Cannon Group, until it abruptly withdrew from talks earlier this week.

“It would be premature to discuss any of the terms because there is no binding agreement,” Hoffman said in a telephone interview. Nevertheless, he said the company is prepared to pay more than half of its bid in cash, in addition to securities in a new company formed to make the acquisition. Los Angeles-based Carolco said it expects the new company’s shares to be traded on the American Stock Exchange.

In a prepared statement, Carolco said “acceptance of the offer by DEG is expected.” But neither DEG Chairman and Chief Executive Stephen R. Greenwald nor the company’s outside financial adviser, Joel H. Reader of Oppenheimer & Co., could be reached for comment.

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Since October, at least five potential buyers of DEG have been publicly identified, but each has faded away. Just last week, Ventura Entertainment Group withdrew its $22-million offer “for overall business considerations,” said Ventura Chairman Harvey Bibicoff, with “no reflection on DEG.”

Cannon withdrew from the negotiations in a huff, according to two sources, apparently because it was not given an exclusive chance to formulate its bid.

One member of DEG’s unsecured creditors’ committee noted that because the Beverly Hills company has sought the protection of bankruptcy court, the details of any bid will eventually become public and exposed to the possibility of a higher bid. The executive, who asked not to be identified, predicted that three or four months might elapse “before the final scenario is played out.”

Before filing for bankruptcy protection, DEG sold most of the foreign television, video and cable rights to its film library to Parafrance, a French concern, to pay off nearly $57 million in revolving bank loans. The company’s remaining assets include a studio in North Carolina and certain film rights and accounts receivable.

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