Ouch! A bad day in the market for Redstone

November 12, 2008

This is shaping up as a bad day for Sumner Redstone — and he’s had a few of those lately — at least where his investments are concerned. Check out share prices of his three major holdings: CBS down 17 percent and Viacom down 11 percent. Midway Games takes first (or last) prize: down 34 percent.

All this wreckage puts more pressure on National Amusements, Redstone’s privately held company and investment vehicle. Recall, last month National Amusements ran into trouble with its banks when it could no longer maintain certain debt-to-asset ratios because the value of its investments in CBS and Viacom had fallen so sharply.

These days, National Amusements is trying to work out new agreements with its banks, and many analysts believe it will have to sell some assets to pay down debt coming due in December. Pali Research’s Rich Greenfield is one of them.

In a note today, he recommended just selling Viacom, since it’s the asset that could be most easily sold. But Greenfield acknowledges that Redstone is unlikely to take that course. Instead, he writes that Redstone will probably look at selling Midway shares in the open market, and putting National Amusement’s theater chain up for sale.

But Redstone may have to make yet another move — one he badly wants to avoid.

Here’s how Greenfield summed it up: “While Mr. Redstone has stated multiple times that he has ‘no intention’ of selling more CBS and/or Viacom shares and that NAI is having constructive talks with its lenders, we believe he may no longer have a choice.  Assuming the theater chain can be sold, and CBS cuts its dividend (which generates quarterly income for NAI of $19 mm), NAI would have no way of servicing its debt beyond selling CBS and/or Viacom shares.”

(Photo: Reuters)

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Looks like DOW 5000 in December

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