Perenchio Seeks to Buy Loews’ Theater Chain

Times Staff Writer

Loews Corp. made it official Monday that it is negotiating to sell its major chain of movie theaters to a group headed by Hollywood film and television entrepreneur A. Jerrold Perenchio.

Loews, a New York-based conglomerate whose main lines are tobacco products, insurance and hotels, said it operates 266 movie screens in six states. In some cases, several of the screens are together in a single theater.

Perenchio owns Los Angeles-based Embassy Communications with his longtime partner, television producer Norman Lear.

The company has a film arm, Embassy Pictures, whose best-known current project is co-producing (with Polygram) the movie version of the stage hit “A Chorus Line.” Embassy Pictures recently has been seeking to finance other pictures by selling shares in a limited partnership private placement.

Involved in Television

In addition, Embassy Communications is involved in television production, distribution and syndication.


However, Embassy spokeswoman Barbara Brogliati said that Lear “at present” is not involved in the Loews deal.

“We are going with Loews’ statement,” Brogliati said. She added that Perenchio was out of the city and pointed out that, in any event, he “considers himself a private individual and doesn’t talk to the press.”

Brogliati said she does not know the identity of the other individuals of Perenchio’s group in the Loews talks.

The brief statement by Loews confirming reports of the negotiations did not indicate their status.

But there were indications that they might be nearing a conclusion. The Loews statement said in part: “The transaction is subject, among other things, to board and other requisite approvals. The proposed transaction contemplates that management of the theaters division would remain in place.”

A company spokesman said he could not identify others in the Perenchio group.

Loews’ theater chain is a relatively minor part of its operations. The theaters contributed $76.9 million, or about 1.4%, of the parent’s $5.6 billion in revenue last year. Loews’ operating profits of $437 million last year included $20.3 million from theaters, or 4.6% of the total operating profit.

Loews obtains more than half of its operating income from cigarettes made by its Lorillard division, whose brands include Kent, Triumph, Old Gold, Golden Lights, Newport, Satin and True. Loews also sells property, casualty and life insurance through its 89% owned subsidiary, CNA Financial.

Its hotel division operates 14 hotel and motor hotels in the United States,Canada, Monaco, Bermuda and the Bahamas.

Perenchio is a former talent agent and sports promoter who in 1969 received an $800,000 finder’s fee when Lum’s Inc. and Clifford and Stuart Perlman bought the Las Vegas hotel-casino Caesars Palace from its former owners.

In 1973, Perenchio joined producers Lear and Bud Yorkin and became president of Tandem Productions, which made such television network hit series as “All in the Family” and “Sanford and Son.”

In 1977, Perenchio started ON TV, an over-the-air pay-television service in Los Angeles, with his partner, Oak Industries of San Diego. He sold his 49% interest in September, 1981, for $55 million.

In December, 1981, Perenchio and Lear bought Avco Embassy Pictures and combined it with T.A.T. Communications, another Lear-Perenchio firm that produced “The Jeffersons” and “Facts of Life” television series.

The resulting entity, Embassy Communications, also incorporated management of Lear and Yorkin’s Tandem Productions.