Paramount Bidders: Here Are All Those Who Want to Buy the Film Studio - Latest Global News

Paramount Bidders: Here Are All Those Who Want to Buy the Film Studio

(Bloomberg) — Six months after the battle to take over Paramount Global began, at least five potential suitors for the renowned film and television company have emerged.

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Reports that CEO Shari Redstone – whose family company owns a majority stake in Paramount – would be open to a sale first emerged in December, when it was revealed that she had been negotiating a deal with independent producer David Ellison.

David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Inc., also expressed interest but then abandoned his plan. The process has since expanded to include several media executives, private equity firms and even a tequila billionaire.

Meanwhile, Paramount has replaced its longtime chairman, Bob Bakish, with a committee of three executives, shrunk its board from 11 to six members and attracted an activist investor who is trying to influence the sale process. The company’s shares have fallen about 17 percent this year.

Here’s a look at who’s in the running to acquire Paramount or take control of it — should Shari Redstone decide to sell. The Redstone family controls 77% of Paramount’s voting stock through its family holding company, National Amusements Inc.

David Ellison’s Skydance Media

Skydance Media, the independent film and television company led by Ellison, is the only known bidder in advanced negotiations to merge with Paramount.

The son of Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison is seeking to take over the company in a complex process that would require him to buy the Redstone family’s majority stake in Paramount and then merge Skydance Media with Paramount at a value of $4.75 billion. To satisfy non-Redstone shareholders who fear their wealth will be diluted by his deal, Ellison has offered to invest billions more dollars in stock purchases and debt reduction.

Its backers include RedBird Capital Partners and KKR & Co.

A special committee of Paramount’s board recommended Ellison’s latest proposal, which includes an option for nonvoting shareholders to sell some of their shares for about $15 per share.

Apollo and Sony

During Paramount’s board’s exclusive talks with Ellison, Apollo Global Management Inc., in partnership with Sony Group Corp., made a non-binding offer for the company. The proposal called for a cash offer for Paramount stock plus the company’s debt – a total of about $26 billion.

Apollo had previously only considered buying Paramount’s film studio, but then expanded its offer to include the entire company, taking a stake in Sony, which was most interested in the target’s film and television library. After Sony’s share price plummeted following the company’s involvement, the company has since backed away from a full takeover offer and indicated that it is once again only interested in the film studio.

Apollo and Sony are now rethinking their approach.

Bronfman and Bain Capital

Former Warner Music Group chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. is the latest media executive to throw his hat into the ring with a possible bid for National Amusements.

Bronfman has partnered with private equity firm Bain Capital for the $2 billion-plus offering, though the partnership has not yet made the offer official and may decide not to proceed with the deal. Bronfman founded an investment firm called Waverley Capital in 2017 to invest in media, sports and entertainment properties. She owns stakes in companies such as podcast network Wondery Inc. and meditation app Headspace Inc.

Byron Allen

Media entrepreneur Byron Allen was one of the most vocal suitors for Paramount, submitting a $14.3 billion offer for the company in late January. Including debt, his offer was worth about $30 billion.

His Allen Media Group already owns 22 television stations and the Weather Channel, which were acquired in a series of deals totaling more than a billion dollars.

Allen confirmed in May that he remained interested in buying all or part of Paramount, saying there was “plenty of capital” to back his bid, even though he has not yet officially named co-investors. He touted his existing ownership of television stations as an advantage and said U.S. regulators would likely want an owner that already has FCC approval.

Steven Paul

Film producer Steven Paul has assembled an investment group for his plan to take over Paramount, which includes the billionaire and co-founder of Patrón Tequila.

Paul has made an offer more than 10% higher than Ellison’s $2.25 billion offer for National Amusements and wants to buy a controlling interest in that company, with the Redstones continuing to own a stake. Last week he sent National Amusements a letter saying he has the funds for a possible deal. Paul is a friend of Shari Redstone and has an office on the Paramount lot.

The only member of Paul’s investment group to comment on the offer is John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of hair care products Patrón and Paul Mitchell. The 80-year-old entrepreneur has said he wants to take the chance to spread “positive information” on Paramount’s CBS news network, claiming there is “not a single news channel that is apolitical.”

The names of Paul’s other co-investors have not yet been disclosed.

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