Sumner Redstone finally spoke out about those rumours that he was considering selling CBS or Viacom to pay off his National Amusements debt. It turns out we were right not to take them so seriously.
WSJ: Asked whether he would consider selling one of the companies, Mr. Redstone said: “Not a chance. I will not sell Viacom and I will not sell CBS. They’re two great companies.” He added: “We have no intention to sell any more stock and I’m decisive about that.”
Mr. Redstone’s comments suggest he would turn to other assets if National Amusements found itself in the situation of having to repay a big chunk of its debt. In addition to the Redstones’ controlling stake in Viacom and CBS, National Amusements houses the family’s privately held movie theatre chain, as well as stakes in publicly traded video game company Midway Games Inc. and slot-machine company WMS Industries.
“I have every reason to have some confidence” that we will be able to reach a deal with the banks, Mr. Redstone said. “I have no guarantee though…of course, anything is possible: The world might end tomorrow.”
We certainly hope he’s wrong about that whole “world ending tomorrow” thing (we have big plans for the weekend), but given Redstone’s past behaviour (specifically with respect to his daughter Shari’s role in the Viacom empire), we wouldn’t be surprised if he changed his mind.
He also felt the need to note that despite his sale of $233 million of stock two weeks ago, he’s still very rich. $233 million is couch change.
Mr. Redstone characterised the sale of his $233 million of stock as an “infinitesimal percentage of what I own. I still own billions of dollars of stock.” The stake he sold represented about 10% of his holding at the time. “We sold a little bit and the rest is not for sale.”
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