WSJ: Redstone Reaches Lender Deal
March 2, 2009 at 5:42 AM (PT)
SUMNER REDSTONE's family holding company, NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS INC., has reached an agreement with its lenders, scoring an important reprieve after months of uncertainty over the fate of its towering debt, reports THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Under the deal signed FRIDAY, REDSTONE and his family will have to sell assets to help repay the debt by the end of next year. But the assets will be of their choosing -- something REDSTONE pushed hard for to avoid selling his controlling interest in VIACOM INC. or CBS CORP.
NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS of DEDHAM, MA has been in negotiations with its lenders to restructure $1.6 billion of debt since it breached the terms of its loans as stocks skidded last fall. The discussions had stirred concerns that REDSTONE and his family would be required to sell more of their shares in media companies VIACOM and CBS to pacify creditors.
REDSTONE is expected instead to sell a chunk of the family's movie-theater chain -- a business he has made clear he has less affection for. NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS has put out feelers to gauge possible interest in its 1,500 screens and will start a formal process soon, people familiar with the situation said.
NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS said it would also tap tax refunds and cash from operations to meet what is an aggressive repayment schedule.