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Redstone's National Amusements closes deal to sell 29 of 35 theaters to Rave

December 21, 2009 | 11:32 am

Sumner Redstone's family-owned theater circuit National Amusements Inc. has closed a deal to unload 29 of the 35 non-core cinema assets it is selling to Texas-based Rave Cinemas. A transaction for the remaining six -- which includes the Los Angeles multiplex Bridge: Cinema de Lux -- is expected to be finalized in the next couple of weeks.

As previously reported this month by Company Town, Redstone will use the undisclosed proceeds from the sale to help pay off National's outstanding debt. In October, the media mogul announced he was selling nearly $1 billion in stock in the two companies he controls, Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp., to retire a good chunk of the $1.46 billion National owes its lenders.

In a statement Monday, the Norwood-Mass.-based National, run by Redstone's daughter Shari Redstone, said, "With the sale of these non-core theater assets, National Amusements is progressing as planned with its previously announced actions to extinguish its existing debt."

Headquartered in Dallas, the privately held Rave also announced today that it was acquiring an additional four theaters from private equity firm Boston Ventures, one of the founding partners in the decade-old Rave that operates screens in such states as California, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas.

Following the completion of the National and Boston Ventures acquisitions, Rave will own or manage 65 theaters, or about 1,000 screens in 20 states, making it the No. 5 circuit in the U.S. Among the locations of Rave's newly acquired theaters are Pittsburgh, Pa.; Ann Arbor, Mich; Toledo and Dayton, Ohio; and Davenport, Iowa.

Rave has been a pioneer in the adoption of 3-D technology and is the largest U.S. circuit to have 100% state-of-the-art digital projection.

Both the National Amusements and Boston Ventures deals are being financed by an investment consortium led by TowerBrook Capital Partners and co-investors Lambert Media Group and Charles B. Moss Jr.  Moss, who has worked in the real estate and movie industries, will serve as chairman of Rave Cinemas, a newly formed holding company for Rave Motion Pictures. Lambert Media's founding partner Michael Lambert will be vice chairman.

Rave's chief executive Thomas Stephenson Jr. will continue to oversee the day-to-day business and operations of the expanded theater circuit. Stephenson will also manage Boston Ventures' 21 existing theaters.

-- Claudia Eller

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