Live Granted Extension for Line of Credit : Entertainment: The agreement is part of a refinancing package for the video distributor's main owner, Carolco Pictures.


Live Entertainment Inc. has won another eight months of breathing room from a bank group that agreed to extend Live's $50-million line of credit through Dec. 2.

The announcement last week by the troubled Van Nuys video distributor and retailer was part of a refinancing package involving Live's 53% owner, Carolco Pictures Inc.

Carolco has entered a new financing deal with its bank lenders and foreign investors that will provide the debt-burdened film producer up to $73.8 million and surrenders greater control of the company to the foreign partners. As part of the refinancing, Carolco said it expects to take a write-down of $100 million in its fourth quarter that ended Dec. 31.

Live had been negotiating for the past several months with a lending group headed by Chemical Bank for an extension on $70 million in debt that was due Jan. 1, and a new Live credit agreement had been a condition of Carolco's refinancing. In addition, Carolco's refinancing includes a $32-million loan that is secured by Carolco's stake in Live.

In effect, the deal will allow Carolco to finish the three remaining feature films it has in production this year, which in turn will give Live a new slate of films to eventually release on video.

Carolco--the producer of last year's blockbuster "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and the recently released Michael Douglas thriller, "Basic Instinct"--is Live's biggest supplier of films to release on videocassette. "Basic Instinct" is now No. 2 at the box office and has pulled in $34.8 million in ticket sales since its March 20 debut. Michael J. White, Live's general counsel, said the company expects to begin shipping cassettes of "Basic Instinct" in the second half of the year.

Other upcoming Live video releases include "Universal Soldier"--a Carolco film due out in theaters in June--and "Rambling Rose."

Live officials said they were pleased by the credit agreement. "This extension allows Live Home Video to implement its planned 1992 and 1993 video acquisition and release schedule," Live Chairman Alan J. Hirschfield and Chief Executive David A. Mount said in a statement. Live Home Video is the company's video distribution business; its ailing retail operations are generally believed to be up for sale.

Analyst Steven E. Hill at the investment firm Sutro & Co. in San Francisco said Live's credit agreement "gives them some breathing room." But, he said, the key question to Live's survival is whether it can establish relationships with other film producers to offset Carolco's drastically reduced production schedule. "Live needs some other suppliers," Hill said.

And David Rose, an analyst at Cruttendon & Co., an investment banking firm in Irvine, said: "I'm still a lot cautious about both companies. I think you're going to see fewer products coming out of Live."

Investors also appeared to greet Live's news skeptically. After announcement of the credit pact March 24, Live's stock fell 12.5 cents to close at $3.875 a share. It closed Monday at $3.625, up 12.5 cents.

Live, which lost $99.8 million on $238.9 million in revenue in the first nine months of 1991, is expected to report its fourth-quarter results in the next two weeks.

In February, the company confirmed that five employees had been laid off and further job cuts were under consideration. But White last week declined to say if there have been further staff reductions. "We've stopped commenting on personnel matters," he said.

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