Warner Bros. Discovery Halting Merger Talks With Paramount Global | Report

The move comes after CEOs David Zaslav and Bob Bakish met in December to discuss the matter

Paramount/Warner Bros. Discovery
Paramount/Warner Bros. Discovery

Warner Bros. Discovery is halting talks with Paramount Global about a potential merger, according to a new report from CNBC citing sources familiar with the matter.

The move comes after CEOs David Zaslav and Bob Bakish met to discuss the matter back in December. Representatives for Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount declined to comment.

Shares of Paramount, which have fallen 48% in the past year, are up 0.9% during Tuesday’s trading session, while WBD stock, which has fallen 45% in the past year, is up 0.76% following the report.

During Warner’s third quarter earnings call for 2023, Zaslav said that the media giant’s debt reduction efforts could allow it to be “really opportunistic over the next 12 to 24 months” on the M&A front. But on its fourth quarter earnings call last week, Zaslav changed his tune, saying that WBD likes where it is.

“We do have the optionality of looking at other assets. But it’s going to be a very high bar for us,” he told analysts Friday. “We like our hand where it is and we like the particular strategy right now of building Max and really deploying all of our great creative assets.”

In addition to Warner Bros. Discovery, David Ellison’s Skydance Media and Allen Media Group founder Byron Allen have both expressed an interest in Paramount, whose assets include Paramount Pictures, streaming platform Paramount+, CBS and linear channels including Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

Ellison has reportedly made a preliminary offer to acquire controlling shareholder National Amusements to take control of Paramount. CNBC reported that Skydance is still doing due diligence on a potential transaction.

Meanwhile, Allen has placed a $30 billion bid, including the assumption of debt, to buy Paramount for $28.58 per voting share and $21.53 per non-voting share, though it’s unclear how the media mogul would finance a potential transaction.

A spokesperson for National Amusements declined to comment.

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