Dish Network completes acquisition of Blockbuster

Once the king of the movie rental business, Blockbuster wins approval to sell its assets to the satellite provider for $320 million.

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Steven Musil
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A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge today approved Dish Network's $320 million acquisition of Blockbuster, once the largest movie rental chain.

"We are pleased to have purchased the assets of Blockbuster and look forward to building on the nationally recognized Blockbuster brand while improving the experience of delivering entertainment to consumers," Tom Cullen, executive vice president for Dish Network, said in a statement.

The satellite provider announced its intention to purchase most of the rental chain's assets earlier this month at a bankruptcy court auction. Under the terms of the deal, the acquisition was expected to be completed Thursday but was delayed by Dish's inability to immediately decide which of the 1,500 leases it wanted to keep.

Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2010 after losing significant market share over the years to Netflix's DVD-by-mail and streaming services. In its filing, Blockbuster said its debts totaled $1 billion, but the company hoped to reduce that to $100 million by offering noteholders equity in the company in exchange for relief on its outstanding debt.

In 2008, while Netflix was reshaping the DVD rental landscape with its "Watch Instantly" movie streaming, Blockbuster instead opted for in-store kiosks from which consumers could download movies to personal devices. In 2009, while Netflix generated $115 million in profit thanks to increased adoption of its streaming service, Blockbuster recorded losses of $517 million on revenue of $4 billion.

Blockbuster closed nearly 1,000 of its then 7,000 stores in an effort to return to profitability in 2009, but the efforts failed. Last year, Blockbuster was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because of its low trading price.