rumour: Viacom Layoffs Coming

There’s lots of chatter at Viacom about coming layoffs, prompted by the lousy advertising climate that’s forced the company to repeatedly lower its guidance. A Portfolio.com piece published yesterday said there was speculation about “imminent” cuts, and Viacom workers we have talked to this morning repeated the same thing. But at this point we’ve got nothing concrete: “At the end of the day only the senior level people know exactly what will happen,” a Sumner Redstone employee points out. True enough! Viacom spokesman Carl Folta had no comment.

Meanwhile, Pali Capital’s Rich Greenfield wants to know exactly why Sumner had to suddenly sell $233 million worth of CBS and Viacom shares in the last few days. We know the general answer: He had to unload the shares to shore up debt at his privately held National Amusements. But which Rich can’t figure out is why National Amusements – the 1,500-screen movie theatre company that Sumner used as his starting point while assembling Viacom — has debt issues at all. His educated guess:

We suspect the answer lies in NAI spending (outside the theatre biz) …  It is also unclear whether Mr. Redstone’s speculated plan to buy-out Shari Redstone (giving her sole control of the NAI theatre chain, in return for 100% control of VIAB and CBS shares owned by NAI) played a factor in the stock sale decision.

 

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