What’s new with the Redstone family?

October 15, 2008

sumner.jpgThe Redstone family knows drama. Late last week, Sumner Redstone’s family holding, National Amusements, announced that it was making a substantial stock sale in each of its key holdings, CBS and Viacom to comply with debt covenants. 

But the sale raised questions about whether some of the proceeds from the sales were actually earmarked to fund and expansion of National Amusements movie theater business, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Sumner Redstone’s daughter, Shari, who runs National Amusements, issued a statement to the Wall Street Journal denying that the stock sale had anything to do with expanding the theater business.

“The implication that this stock sale was required by the operation and expansion of the company’s theater circuit is not accurate,” Ms. Redstone’s movie theater unit said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “National Amusement’s recent sale of a portion of its Viacom and CBS non-voting stock was the direct result of last week’s historic financial crisis, which included the precipitous drop in value of CBS and Viacom stock.”

Sumner Redstone has not publicly weighed in on the reason for the stock sale, and people familiar with the situation told the Wall Street Journal that he was caught off guard by the events. 

The sale — and the reason behind it — fueled more speculation about tension between Sumner and his daughter. For some time, the two have been at odds over a number of issues, including the direction of the movie theater business and her own professional goals.

Is more family drama ahead? Stay tuned.

Keep an eye on:

  • EBay plans a major expansion of its fast-growing U.S. web classifieds unit, but experts doubt it can overtake well-loved rival Craigslist and build a viable business as its online auctions slow (Reuters)
  • Financial Times-owner Pearson Plc said its adjusted 2008 earnings per share should be toward the top end of current market estimates if the dollar maintains gains versus sterling (Reuters)
  • Colin Callender will leave his job as president of HBO Films by the end of the year to start his own entertainment production company (NY Times)

(Photo: Reuters)

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