Paramount Opens Talks With Sony and Apollo for Acquisition

The Paramount board’s special committee met over the weekend on the matter, after allowing an exclusive negotiating window with Skydance Media to lapse

Sony, Apollo and Paramount logos

A special committee of Paramount’s board of directors decided over the weekend to formally open negotiations with Sony Pictures Entertainment and private equity group Apollo Global Management, an individual with knowledge told TheWrap. The decision follows an exclusive negotiation period between Paramount and Skydance ending Friday with no deal made.

A spokesperson for the special committee declined to comment.

Sony Pictures stepped into the race by making a joint informal offer with private equity firm Apollo Global Management of $26 billion, all cash, for Paramount. When it comes to Skydance, it received the public backing Sunday of two big names: director James Cameron and Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, who voiced their support for David Ellison’s Skydance acquiring Paramount in an interview with the Financial Times.

The committee also pushed for further negotiations with Skydance. The exclusive negotiating window closing with no deal and not being extended doesn’t mean a future deal with Skydance isn’t possible, but it does decrease the chances of a deal being reached between the two companies.

Skydance has been in talks about a potential two-step deal that would see the company acquire Paramount through controlling shareholder Shari Redstone’s majority stake in National Amusements, which owns 77% of Paramount’s voting stock.

However, the bid from Skydance has seen significant pushback from minority shareholders in Paramount, who argued that the buyout of Redstone’s shares would leave them out of the profits of the merger and dilute the value of their shares. In response, Skydance offered to add a $3 billion cash injection and premium for non-voting class B shares.

Any deal reached to purchase Paramount would also need to get past governmental regulation, including restrictions on foreign ownership of broadcast television networks. Acquisitions have faced stricter scrutiny under President Joe Biden’s administration than under former President Donald Trump from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

As Redstone and Paramount weigh their options, CEO Bob Bakish resigned from the company this past week, replaced in the interim by an executive committee comprised of CBS CEO/president George Cheeks, Paramount Media Networks CEO/president Chris McCarthy and Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon CEO/president Brian Robbins. The group is in the process of creating a long-term strategic plan.

This news was first reported by the New York Times.

This story includes additional reporting from TheWrap’s Jeremy Fuster.


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