Shari Redstone Buys Russian Theaters from her Family Firm

She may be the daughter of billionaire, and Haute Living Magazine’s New York cover feature, Sumner Redstone, but Shari Redstone has a business mind of her own and she recently teamed up with a private equity firm and purchased a six-theater, 74-screen circuit in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Redstone helped to launch the theaters in 2002 but now she’s taking control as she joins the private equity firm to acquire the Russian movie theater chain, the Rising Star Media circuit, which previously belonged to her family-owned National Amusements Inc.

Rising Star Media circuit operates in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and National Amusements is run by the father-daughter team. However, National Amusements has recently been selling theaters to help “pay down debt.”

According to The Los Angeles Times, National Amusements “recently reached a deal to sell 35 U.S. theaters, including the Bridge Cinema de Lux multiplex in Los Angeles, to Texas-based Rave Cinemas. Last fall, the elder Redstone sold nearly $1 billion in stock in the two media companies he controls, Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp., to help retire the $1.46 billion that National Amusements owed lenders.”

It’s reported that once the sale of the Russian theaters is complete, National Amusement will not be unloading any other assets.

Redstone commented, “We’re in really good shape. Russia was always a very important passion project for me, so, to control and direct the future of this company is very exciting.” She also pointed out that Rising Star is the only non-Russian exhibitor in the country with five of the nation’s top-crossing cinemas, and it was the first U.S.-backed theater chain to go to Russia.

Both locations feature “state-of-the-art Imax digital projection screens, and all have RealD 3-D cinema systems.”

Further expanding on the new acquisition, Redstone offered, “It’s one of the most challenging and exciting markets in the world, and the potential for growth is tremendous. We want to be smart and conservative but want to very aggressively grow our business both through building and acquisitions. It’s a very unique culture; you have to understand the politics, the economy and the negotiating process when working with landlords.”