Sumner Redstone offers to sell cinema chain to head off banking trouble

Sumner Redstone, the octogenarian media mogul, has offered to sell the cinema chain that first made him a billionaire, in a desperate bid to hang on to the rest of his television and film empire.

With a 19 December deadline looming to refinance $800m (£520m) of debt taken out by his holding company, National Amusements, Mr Sumner has offered a partial break-up as a solution.

But with the mogul having been forced into negotiations with his bankers since coming up against debt covenants in the autumn, few observers are willing yet to bet that Mr Sumner will re-emerge still in control of his beloved Viacom and CBS. Viacom owns Paramount Studios, the Hollywood blockbuster factory, and television channels such as MTV and VH1. CBS, meanwhile, is one of the three big television networks in the US, and also owns the publisher Simon & Schuster.

Collapsing advertising sales at the broadcasting companies led to a share price plunge at CBS and Viacom, which in turn triggered Mr Redstone's difficulties last month. When National Amusements was forced to sell $233m in CBS and Viacom shares to satisfy its bankers, the trouble became the talk of the industry. According to people familiar with Mr Redstone's latest proposals, he has offered to sell the 1,300-screen cinema chain at the heart of National Amusements, plus some smaller assets, so that he can hang on to the controlling stakes in Viacom and CBS, but there is no agreement yet with his bankers. Discussions centre on fixing a valuation for the various assets, something which is problematic given the volatility in the share prices and the obscure outlook for consumer spending, which could affect cinema-going next year.

National Amusements began life as the Northeast Theatre Corporation in 1936, set up in Massachusetts by Mr Redstone's father, Michael. The chain is run by Sumner Redstone's daughter Shari, with whom he has had a sometimes fractious relationship. It was only when he was in his fifties that Mr Redstone expanded the company into film and television. The string of acquisitions made him a powerful media owner, and one of the richest men in the US. His fortune was estimated earlier this year by Fortune magazine at $5.1bn, but observers believe much of that wealth has evaporated.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Account Manager - (Product & Account Management, Marketing)

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Account Manager - (Produc...

Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

.NET Software Developer (.NET, C#, ASP.NET, front-end)

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried