Redstone Seeks Clearance to Boost Orion Stake to 36%

Times Staff Writer

Continuing a quiet duel for Orion Pictures’ stock, Sumner M. Redstone disclosed Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that he is seeking federal antitrust clearance to boost his holdings in the company to 36%.

Redstone, who owns television industry giant Viacom International and a major movie theater chain, also reported in the filing that he raised his Orion stake last week to 26.8%.

On Jan. 20, a group led by entrepreneur John Kluge reported that it increased its Orion holdings to 21.9% of the shares, several days before Redstone disclosed that he had raised his stake to 26.1%.


Kluge, an outside director of Orion and ally of Chairman Arthur Krim, has roughly kept pace with Redstone’s acquisitions of the stock, and on Jan. 13 his group received antitrust clearance to raise its holdings to 25%.

Orion’s stock price, which has steadily increased during the duel, rose another 87.5 cents a share Monday to close at $16.125 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Redstone said his most recent purchases were at prices ranging from $14.875 to $15.25. In a filing several weeks ago, he reported Orion stock buys between Dec. 17 and Jan. 20 at prices ranging from $10.25 to $12.625.

In the past 52 weeks, Orion stock has traded as low as $5.50 and as high as $19.375.

Although Redstone’s filings continue to report that his purchases are “for investment,” some analysts have viewed the duel as a potential battle for control of Orion.

“I will be interested to see if both keep escalating,” said John Olds, an analyst with Paul Kagan Associates in Carmel, adding that he does not foresee an antitrust problem for Redstone.

Orion’s financial prospects have brightened in recent months because of several successful movies, including “Robocop,” “No Way Out” and “Throw Momma From the Train.”

Redstone owns 83% of Viacom through his National Amusements theater chain. Viacom, in turn, owns 812,500 shares of Orion and a stock warrant giving it the right to buy another 2,762,500 Orion shares.

In Monday’s SEC filing, Redstone and National Amusements said they filed notice last Friday under the Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust law that they intend to increase their Orion ownership to as much as 25% (calculated without the effect of the stock warrant, as provided under provisions of the law). The 25% would equal 36% with the warrant included, the filing noted.

Redstone included the stock warrant in calculating his present Orion holdings of 26.8%.

Orion declined to comment Monday on the latest move by Redstone.

There was no word on any new Orion filing by the Kluge camp. Kluge, who sold six big-city television stations owned by his Metromedia Inc. to Rupert Murdoch for $1.55 billion in May, 1985, has been acquiring Orion stock since last February.