Blockbuster-Viacom speculation renewed

August 18, 1994|By Knight-Ridder News Service

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA — FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Is the merger between Blockbuster Entertainment and Viacom Inc. on again?

Wall Street analysts have been talking about that possibility for weeks. Blockbuster Chairman Wayne Huizenga fueled speculation this week in a brief aside to a Miami Herald reporter.

"It looks like the Viacom deal is going to go through," Mr. Huizenga said.

But yesterday, the company lips were sealed.

"The company has no comment at this time on the status of the transaction," said Senior Vice President and General Counsel Thomas Hawkins, who expressed disbelief over Mr. Huizenga's remark. "I can't believe that would be his quote," Mr. Hawkins said.

In January, Blockbuster agreed to merge with Viacom in a stock swap valued at $8.4 billion. Prospects for the deal dimmed considerably after Viacom's stock lost nearly half its value, falling to the low 20s. But in recent weeks, Viacom's Class B stock has gained ground, prompting renewed speculation the deal might close. The Class B stock closed yesterday at $37.875, down 12.5 cents.

Both companies are bound by the agreement they signed until Sept. 30. At that time, either side can terminate the deal.

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