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Bankrupt Blockbuster puts itself up for sale

By Charles Riley, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Bankrupt home video chain Blockbuster put itself up for sale Monday, saying it has received an offer of $290 million dollars for the business.

Blockbuster said it filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York that asks for authorization to start an auction process, for which it already has an opening bid.

The $290 million initial offer was made by an investor group consisting of Monarch Alternative Capital, Owl Creek Asset Management, Stonehill Capital Management and Värde Partners, all of which are creditors of the once mighty chain.

The movie rental store's U.S. businesses filed for Chapter 11 protection in September, hoping to sharply reduce their nearly $1 billion debt.

"By initiating a sale process at this time, we intend to accelerate our Chapter 11 proceedings and move the company forward," CEO Jim Keyes said in a statement. "An auction will allow the company to invite competing bids from both strategic and financial investors."

If the auction proposal is accepted by the court, additional offers will be accepted for 30 days, and a final sale would take place before April 20.

Normal store operations will continue during the sale, the company said.

Blockbuster has struggled for survival ever since media conglomerate Viacom spun off the company in 2004. As a part of the deal, the company had to pay Viacom shareholders a $5 per-share dividend, and the movie rental giant racked up about $1 billion of debt in the process.

The company also suffered losses from unprofitable stores and increased competition from both Netflix (NFLX) and Coinstar's (CSTR) Redbox. To top of page

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