Sony-Apollo Backs Away From $26 Billion Paramount Bid but Paves Way to Continued Deal Talks, NDAs

Sony Pictures Entertainment and Apollo Global Management gain access to the studio’s nonpublic financial information, The New York Times reports

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Sony, Apollo and Paramount logos

Sony and Apollo have apparently decided to back away from their previous all cash $26 billion offer to buy Paramount Global, in part due to concerns from Sony shareholders about costs related to Paramount’s streaming assets, The New York Times reported Friday.

But according to NYT, Sony and Apollo are still serious about acquiring Paramount assets and are exploring other possible deal structures. As part of this, the companies have signed a non disclosure agreement with Paramount that allows them to examine financial information that hasn’t been made public.

Formal talks with Sony were approved by a special committee of Paramount’s board of directors on May 5, after the company’s exclusive negotiation window with Skydance Media expired without a deal,

But the committee also signaled interest in further negotiations with Skydance, even though the end of the exclusivity window makes a deal less likely. Skydance talks centered on a potential two-step deal in which it would acquire Paramount through Shari Redstone’s majority stake in National Amusements, which owns 77% of Paramount’s voting stock.

Redstone reportedly wants this deal, but it has received a loud pushback from minority Paramount shareholders who oppose Skydance’s reported plans to keep all Paramount assets together instead of selling them piecemeal, similar to companies that have been bought up and stripped by private equity firms — the latter process would generate bigger short-term gains for shareholders, though it would also result in a greatly diminished Paramount.

Redstone has been very public about her preference that Paramount not be broken up, and has previously rejected Sony and Apollo bids on those grounds. According to The New York Times, she has privately signaled breaking up the company isn’t a dealbreaker anymore, but it would depend on what the terms are.

Any Sony/Apollo deal may face additional regulatory challenges, however. It would need to get around federal laws restricting the ownership of broadcast television networks by foreign companies. The Biden Administration has also favored stronger antitrust and labor law enforcement that recent presidential predecessors.

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