Digest: S&P cuts Tribune on debt load
EmptyStandard & Poor's Ratings Services cut its ratings on Tribune from "B+" to "B" after the completion of real estate magnate Sam Zell's debt-heavy $8.2 billion buyout of the newspaper and television company. The acquisition added $8 billion in debt to Tribune's books, raising the company's total debt burden to about $13 billion. S&P said its downgrade was prompted by the completion of the buyout's second step, which included closing $3.7 billion in borrowings to help fund the $34 per share cash purchase of Tribune's remaining publicly held common stock. S&P said the rating assumes the sale of some assets -- including the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field -- totaling at least $1 billion.
Midway plays board game
Midway Games, controlled by Viacom's Sumner Redstone, has appointed daughter Shari Redstone as chair of the board of directors, and former chairman Kenneth Cron has resigned from the board after serving for three years, the firm said Friday. Midway publishes titles including Hong Kong action director John Woo's "Stranglehold" and "Unreal Tournament."
Competition good for Netflix, B'buster
Online rivals Netflix and Blockbuster saw their shares climb Friday. Blockbuster said it will raise the prices of its DVD-by-mail service for new customers and some current customers by up to 40%. Shares of Netflix rose 3.2% to $28.10, while Blockbuster added 7.9% to $3.83 and led Friday's gainers on The Hollywood Reporter Showbiz 50 stock index. In a note to clients, Thomas Weisel analyst Lloyd Walmsley called the price increases "a clear positive for the health of the industry as a whole, as well as for Netflix."