Barry Diller Eyes Paramount Bid Following Skydance Fallout | Report

The billionaire behind IAC has signed nondisclosure agreements with National Amusements as talks begin

Barry Diller attends the Expedia One Key launch event in New York City
Barry Diller attends the Expedia One Key launch event in New York City (Credit: Gotham/GC Images)

Barry Diller is exploring a bid to take control of Paramount, the parent company of CBS, MTV and Nickelodeon, the New York Times reported on Monday.

Diller’s company IAC has signed nondisclosure agreements with National Amusements, the holding company of Paramount’s controlling shareholder Shari Redstone, sources told the outlet.

Representatives for National Amusements did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment. Representatives for Paramount and IAC declined to comment.

The development comes after Redstone scrapped a deal with David Ellison’s Skydance Media last month to acquire NAI and merge with the Hollywood studio. An individual familiar with the matter previously told TheWrap that while both sides agreed to the economic terms of the deal, there were outstanding issues that they did not agree on — most notably, giving all shareholders a consent vote on the sale.

In 1974, Diller was named head of Paramount Pictures and would serve in the role until 1984. Under his tenure, the studio produced popular TV series such as “Laverne & Shirley” and “Cheers” and films including “Saturday Night Fever,” “Grease” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” In 1983, he was also named president of the company’s Entertainment and Communications Group, which included Simon & Schuster, Inc., Madison Square Garden Corporation and SEGA Enterprises, Inc. 

From 1984 to 1992, Diller served as chairman and CEO of Fox Inc. and was responsible for the creation of Fox Broadcasting Company in addition to Fox’s motion picture operations. He would end up bidding for Paramount in the early ’90s, but would lose to Shari’s father Sumner Redstone. At the time, Diller issued a statement that read: “They won. We lost. Next.”

Diller would become chairman and CEO of IAC in 1995 and serve in the role until late 2010, during which time the company would acquire the assets of Silver King Broadcasting in 1996, which owned the Home Shopping Network, and USA Network in 1997. He is currently the chairman and senior executive of IAC and Expedia Group.

In addition to Skydance, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Apollo Global Management have submitted a joint $26 billion all cash offer.

Allen Media Group founder Byron Allen also placed a $30 billion bid including debt, though it is unclear how that bid would be financed. Additionally, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav met with former Paramount CEO Bob Bakish about a potential merger, though those talks were later halted. 

Separately, NAI has received two separate expressions of interest from “Baby Geniuses” producer Steven Paul and former Warner Music Group CEO and chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr.

While Redstone weighs her options, Paramount is currently being run by three co-CEOs — Brian Robbins, Chris McCarthy and George Cheeks — who replaced longtime CEO Bakish.

The trio has outlined a long-term strategic plan that includes $500 million in cost cuts, divesting assets and teaming up with other streamers or technology platforms on a streaming joint venture or long-term partnership. CNBC reported on Monday that Warner Bros. Discovery is among the companies entertaining a potential streamer merger with Paramount+.

During a town hall with employees last week, the executives revealed that they have started cutting costs in areas including legal and corporate marketing, though they did not reveal a timeline nor confirm how many employees could be impacted.

They’ve also hired bankers to help with asset sales, which could potentially include Pluto TV, BET, VH1 and the Paramount lot, which would be leased back for the studio’s use, four individuals familiar with the matter previously confirmed to TheWrap.

Additionally, the company said it was advancing talks with potential partners in international markets that will “significantly transform the scale and economics” of its streaming business, which is currently on track to reach domestic profitability in 2025.

Paramount, which has a market capitalization of $6.97 billion, saw its shares climb over 3% in after-hours trading on Monday, though the stock has fallen 29% in the past six months and 37% in the past year. The company also faces $14.6 billion in long-term debt and a credit rating that has been downgraded to junk status.

Paramount’s co-CEOs will update Wall Street on its long-term strategic plan during its second quarter earnings call in August.


One response to “Barry Diller Eyes Paramount Bid Following Skydance Fallout | Report”

  1. Robert McCoy Avatar

    Barry Diller back for Paramount? Guess they’re going for the nostalgia reboot strategy with their CEO as well.

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