Sumner Redstone considers selling CBS

December 1, 2008

Sumner M. Redstone, the controlling shareholder of CBS and Viacom, is fighting to save his media empire. If the economy continues to sink, the mogul has indicated that CBS will be the first to go.

Though CBS declared it won the November sweeps and had 14 shows hitting season or series high ratings in the 18 to 49 demographic, the network’s value is down 78 percent for the year.

In October, Redstone was forced to sell more than $200 million of stock in CBS and Viacom to satisfy lenders, and he has been in talks ever since to restructure $1.6 billion of bank debt backed by the value of National Amusements, the holding company that is Redstone’s vehicle for controlling CBS and Viacom, the “New York Times” reported.

The remaining question is how far Redstone will go in downsizing his media empire. Rich Greenfield, an analyst at Pali Research, wrote a report last week that said Wall Street is largely expecting that Redstone will be forced to sell more of his stock in CBS and Viacom.

“While a block trade by the chairman and founder cannot be looked at as a positive, we believe investors are already assuming it will happen,” Greenfield said.

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