Redstone family quarrels over Midway

Videogame publisher battles to stay afloat

Midway Games is starting to look less like a videogame publisher and more like the Redstone family soap opera.

Ever since mogul Sumner Redstone took control of Midway in 2005, the moneylosing company has been a point of contention with daughter Shari Redstone, who runs exhib chain National Amusements (NAI), which also serves as an investment vehicle for the Redstone clan.

As recently as a year ago, Shari was publicly complaining about the money her father was wasting on Midway. But things quieted down since she became the vidgame publisher’s chairman last December.

Now Midway’s back in the middle of a family squabble. After National Amusements sold $233 million of its stock in CBS and Viacom last week, sources close to the company told press outlets that the money was required to pay back a loan used to expand and operate its theater chains.

But Shari, perhaps wary of criticism of her management and cognizant of public disclosure rules, quickly put out a statement saying the sale had nothing to do with NAI’s exhibition business. Which left many wondering just why the loan was needed.

One likely answer is that Midway has had to use NAI as a piggybank, borrowing as much as $130 million from it this year just to have enough cash to continue operating.

No one is sure yet whether Midway, which has been significantly cutting back on its vidgames release slate, will somehow revive itself, find a willing buyer or simply fade into the sunset.

Whatever the resolution, it’ll probably make Redstone family Christmases a little less contentious.