Paramount Shares Drop About 7% After Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Sells 1/3 of Stake

Prior to the sale, Buffett’s company owned approximately 15% of the entertainment giant

Shares of Paramount Global fell over 6% in after hours trading on Wednesday night, following news that Berkshire Hathaway sold off 1/3 of its stake in the company during the fourth fiscal quarter of 2023, which ended Dec. 31.

Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, disclosed the sale its latest 13F filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

Berkshire Hathaway got into the Paramount business in 2022 with a $2.6 billion stock buy amounting to 15% of the company, a purchase that sent Paramount stock soaring at the time. The multinational conglomerate owns roughly 63.3 million shares of Paramount following the sale.

In addition to Paramount, Berkshire reduced its stake in HP Inc. and Apple, which remains a top holding. It also exited positions in D.R. Horton, Markel Group, StoneCo Ltd. and Globe Life Inc., while adding to its Chevron Corp. and Occidental Petroleum stakes.

The news comes one day after Paramount Global, whose shares have dropped 46% in the past year, announced plans to lay off 800 employees as part of a major cost-cutting move. That amounts to about 3% of the company’s staff but it comes amid a very uncertain time for the entertainment giant, owner of CBS, Comedy Central, BET and of course the Paramount film studio, among other properties.

The timing here is likely not coincidental. Berkshire Hathaway sold off its shares during the same time period last year when Shari Redstone, who owns Paramount through her company National Amusements, began to entertain the possibility of selling it.

Indeed, in December Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav met with Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish to discuss a possible merger, though news of that meeting put a dent in both companies’ stock price. More recently, at the end of January Byron Allen offered $14 billion for Paramount, well above its roughly $9.1 billion market capitalization.

Even so, Bakish has more recently tamped down talk that a sale is imminent, telling CNBC last week that “our focus is on creating shareholder value, either through execution or through alternate means.”

“As to what direction we’re going to go, we’ll see,” Bakish also said. “But what it really tells you is there’s extraordinary value in Paramount Global.”

According to the SEC filing, in the Q4 sale Berkshire Hathaway unloaded 30.4 million shares. Representatives for Berkshire Hathaway didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap; according to the New York Post, the company plans to sell its remaining 63.3 million Paramount shares at some point soon.


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