Remember those "be kind rewind" notices that movie rental chains used to slap on to VHS cases? I'm guessing that Blockbuster (OTCBB: BLOAQ.PK) would love to be able to hit the rewind button and go back a few years.
Things aren't going well for the rental chain in bankruptcy court. Creditors aren't open to giving Blockbuster more money, sources tell The Wall Street Journal. Crocodile-armed lenders mean that the chain will have little choice but to put itself up for sale.
Carl Icahn has emerged as the most likely bidder. Unless private-equity firms step up, Icahn may reportedly be able buy Blockbuster for less than $300 million. It's been a long way down for the company that was acquired by Viacom
Icahn may be the only lifeboat out there for this sinking ship. I can't think of a single public company that would be interested.
has a lot to lose if Blockbuster goes under. It's the company bankrolling the Blockbuster Express kiosks. However, the maker of ATMs is unlikely to want to get into running actual DVD stores. (NYSE: NCR)
Redbox stands the most to gain if Blockbuster either liquidates or is forced to close more of its stores. Buying Blockbuster to implode it would be cruel, though. It certainly doesn't want to run full-blown stores, and its brand is likely to have even more street cred than Blockbuster. (Nasdaq: CSTR)
is too far along the streaming path to inherit more headaches related to physical distribution. Buying Blockbuster seems as likely to happen as Ishtar 2. (Nasdaq: NFLX)
already learned its lesson when it bought the Musicland chain of record stores several years ago. You don't buy a retailer specializing in a media that's in decline. Best Buy's recent struggles can use a little kick, but snapping up Blockbuster -- even for a store-within-a-store approach -- doesn't make sense. (NYSE: BBY)
knows how to make the most of small-box spaces. It probably has a laundry list of things it can do to enhance Blockbuster to the point where it's not leaning so heavily on DVD rentals. However, it has its own demons to vanquish. It needs to focus internally. (NYSE: RSH)
Am I missing any other publicly traded suitors? Maybe a few of the studios can get together and save Blockbuster. After all, if Blockbuster liquidates, it will only drive more traffic to Netflix and Redbox. The process will further diminish the perceived value of DVD releases. However, even Hollywood isn't that stupid. Buying Blockbuster won't derail the trend. It will only make the studio pockets emptier.
So good luck, Icahn. You're going to need it.
How would you save Blockbuster? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz can't remember the last time he went into a video store for a rental. He does not own shares in any of the stocks mentioned in this story, except for Netflix. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.