Paramount merger saga: The story so far

Paramount merger saga: The story so far

Paramount Global has been on a rollercoaster of merger and acquisition talks over the past six months.

Its controlling shareholder, National Amusements, headed up by Shari Redstone, owns 77% of the voting shares and has explored discussions with Skydance Media, Sony and Warner Bros Discovery, as well as others.

As Paramount, through National Amusements, reopens merger talks with Skydance Media, The Media Leader looks back on what has happened so far.

11 December 2023

Paramount is reported to start talks with Skydance Media founder David Ellison and explore other merger options.

20 December 

Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav and then Paramount CEO Bob Bakish are reported to have met at Paramount’s New York headquarters to discuss a merger.

Zaslav has also spoken to Redstone.

5 reasons Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount are discussing merger

24 January 2024 

Skydance reportedly makes a preliminary offer to buy National Amusements, majority-owned by the Redstone family, as a way to take control of Paramount.

1 February 

Media mogul Byron Allen makes a $14.3bn offer to buy all outstanding shares of Paramount.

Including existing debt, the value of the deal totals $30bn.

13 February 

Paramount announces it will lay off around 800 employees, or 3% of its headcount, worldwide.

16 February 

Paramount and NBCUniversal reportedly hold early talks about a tie-up between their Paramount+ and Peacock subscription VOD services.

1 March 

In its earnings, Paramount’s revenue fell 6% in Q4 2023 to $7.6bn, but direct-to-consumer ad revenue rose 14% to $526m and direct-to-consumer subscription revenue surged 43% to $1.3bn.

Linear TV declined 12% to $5.2bn, including a 15% drop in advertising to $2.3bn.

14 March 

Private equity group Apollo Global Management reaches out to a special committee formed by Paramount about a possible takeover or asset purchase.

5 April 

Redstone reaches a tentative agreement to sell her controlling stake in Paramount to Skydance.

The two companies agree on a broad framework of a merger and enter a 30-day window of exclusive talks.

29 April 

In its earnings, Paramount’s total advertising revenue grew 17% and total company revenue increased 6%, in Q1. Paramount+ increased revenue by 51%, narrowed losses to $286m and now has 71m subscribers.

At the same time, Bakish steps down from his CEO post and from the company’s board of directors. He joined Viacom in 1997, became its CEO in 2016 and was named CEO of the combined company in 2019.

At paramount, he is replaced by three executives in a newly created “Office of the CEO”: George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS; Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks; and Brian Robbins, president and CEO of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon.

2 May

Sony and Apollo inform Paramount that they plan on making a $26bn cash offer one day after the exclusive negotiating window with Skydance ends.

10 May 

It is reported that Sony and Apollo plan to break up Paramount should they acquire the company.

TV properties like CBS, MTV and Paramount+ would be put up for auction, while Paramount Pictures would be combined with Sony’s business.

11 June 

Redstone ends six months of merger talks with Skydance.

In a statement, the company said: “National Amusements Inc, the majority voting shareholder of Paramount Global, today announced that they have not been able to reach mutually acceptable terms regarding the potential transaction with Skydance Media for the acquisition of a controlling stake in NAI.”

25 June 

Paramount announces it would raise the prices of Paramount+ for the second time in less than a year.

Paramount+ hikes prices as it looks to turn around its business

1 July 

It is reported that Paramount is in merger talks for Paramount+ with “a number of companies”, including Warner Bros Discovery, which could be interested in a joint venture with Max.

On the same day, billionaire Barry Diller is said to be exploring a bid to take control of Paramount. Diller lost a bidding war for Paramount Pictures decades previously.

At the same time, Paramount shut down the MTV News website, alongside the websites of other cable properties CMT, Comedy Central, TV Land and Paramount Network.

2 July

Paramount, via National Amusements Inc, “quietly” renews acquisition talks with Skydance and RedBird Capital to reach a “tentative” merger agreement.

The deal still needs approval by a special committee of its board of directors and is believed to have a 45-day window in which Paramount has the right to explore other offers that can match Skydance’s terms.

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