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Options for Paramount being Considered by Redstone's NAI and Talking to Bankers: Reuters

Options for Paramount being Considered by Redstone's NAI and Talking to Bankers: Reuters
Strategic options for Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures, including a possible stake sale are being looked out by Sumner Redstone's National Amusements Inc and are consulting investment bankers about the options reported the Reuters citing sources familiar with the situation said.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that more value is keenly sought to be extracted from the film studio's real estate holdings in Los Angeles by National Amusements which controls 80 percent of the voting shares of Viacom.
What other scenarios National Amusements is considering is however still unclear. This deal for the movie studio could happen even without Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman leading the process and hence the fact that it is entertaining options for Paramount is significant for the company.
Removing Dauman and members of the board is being considered by Redstone, the billionaire founder of the company has already said. An issue of contention in the battle for control of 93-year-old Redstone's $40 billion media-empire is the sale of an interest in Paramount. Redstone's $40 billion media empire includes Viacom and CBS Corp.
Redstone has said that be swayed by a plan that convinces him otherwise even though he had said in a statement last month that he believes keeping 100 percent of the film unit is in the best interest of Viacom.
It "is not opposed to a transaction that would unlock value at Paramount", said National Amusements. However in order to create hurdles for Dauman to sell a stake in the studio, it amended Viacom's bylaws. The bylaws mandate that Dauman ahs to obtain the approval of the entire board of the media company to sell the stake.
At an investor conference last week, Dauman said that he was also looking to unlock the value of the film studio's real estate holdings while adding that he was pushing ahead with plans to sell a 49 percent stake in Paramount.
The seven-person trust that will determine the fate of Viacom and CBS after Redstone dies or is incapacitated saw Dauman and Viacom board member George Abrams being removed by Redstone last month. Concerns about the Paramount sale, a representative for Redstone has said, was part of the reason that he made the move.
A lawsuit has been filed against their removal from the trust and the NAI board by Dauman and Abrams. A Massachusetts judge is deciding whether to move up that trial from October.


Christopher J. Mitchell

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