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Skydance reaches tentative deal to acquire Paramount for $1.75 billion

The deal would involve a purchase of National Amusements, then an immediate merger with the famed movie studio.

The deal would involve a purchase of National Amusements, then an immediate merger with the famed movie studio.

The front of the Paramount Pictures studios in Los Angeles, California. (Stock image by Hannah Wernecke via Unsplash)
The front of the Paramount Pictures studios in Los Angeles, California. (Stock image by Hannah Wernecke via Unsplash)

Skydance Media has reached a tentative deal to acquire National Amusements, the majority shareholder of Paramount Global, as part of a broader strategy to merge the two entertainment businesses.

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal said discussions between Skydance Media and National Amusements owner Shari Redstone had reignited, about three weeks after the newspaper reported that talks between the two sides had broken down.

At the time, the Journal said Redstone and Skydance Media could not agree on whether their deal should be subject to a vote by Paramount’s minority shareholders. Redstone supported the vote, while Skydance did not, according to reports.

That issue now appears to be resolved, with Skydance willing to pay $1.75 billion to buy National Amusements from Redstone. Subject to the approval of a special committee at Paramount, Skydance would then merge with the entertainment juggernaut through an all-stock transaction.

The structure of the deal resembles one that Skydance and Redstone were exploring earlier this year, though one that is no longer conditioned upon approval from Paramount’s other shareholders.

Less clear is what Paramount properties will be included in the transaction. Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported Paramount was entertaining an offer to sell BET Media to BET CEO Scott Mills and private equity head Chinh Chu for between $1.6 billion and $1.7 billion. That transaction would include the BET and VH1 cable channels, as well as Paramount’s stake in BET Plus, a streaming service it operates through a joint venture with comedian Tyler Perry.

Barry Diller, a veteran media and entertainment mogul who once led Paramount as its CEO, was also said to be exploring a bid for the company, according to the New York Times and CNBC. Allen Media Group founder Byron Allen made his own offer last year, though Paramount executives expressed concern over whether Allen could finance a deal.

The Paramount saga has seen many twists and turns over much of the past year as company leaders and Redstone seek to draw down the studio’s debt at a time when it is focused on competing in the so-called “streaming wars.” Earlier this year, four directors of Paramount board resigned around the time the company engaged Skydance in pre-merger discussions on an exclusive basis. Paramount CEO Bob Bakish also departed, with the company now run by a trio of “co-CEOs” from different business units.

In addition to the film studio and BET Media, Paramount Global includes the broadcast television network CBS; cable channels MTV, Comedy Central, CMT, Paramount Network, TV Land and Nickelodeon; British television network Channel 5; Australia’s Network 10; Argentinian network Telefe; streaming platforms Paramount Plus and Pluto TV; and around two dozen local CBS and independent TV stations in the United States. It also owns a 50 percent stake in the joint venture Sky Showtime, which offers Paramount content over the Internet in parts of Europe and North Africa; Comcast’s NBC Universal owns the other half.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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