That was then, this is now. After the “forced” sales of $233 million in Viacom (NYSE: VIA) and CBS shares sent the stocks into a spiral last October, Sumner Redstone promised that National Amusements “has no intention of selling a single share of Viacom or CBS stock” — but he didn’t say how long that promise would last. Turns out he meant about a year. The now-restructured National Amusements debt needs to be serviced and the theater company controlled by Redstone is selling nearly $1 billion in Viacom and CBS stock through a public offering to cover its debt: $600 million shares of Viacom and $345 million of CBS (NYSE: CBS). NAI has a $500 million payment due at the end of the month and more debt to pay off.
Despite the change of mind, this time, at least, Redstone appears to be much more aware of how his actions on behalf of NAI can affect Viacom and CBS. Can’t imagine either company is very happy with the move but so far it doesn’t look like the sales will have the same impact on their market value. The sale of the non-voting shares doesn’t affect Redstone/NAI’s control of either company, although it reduces the NAI equity stake in Viacom to 7 percent from 10.6 percent and in CBS to 6 percent of CBS from 10.5 percent.