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Paramount will not extend exclusive deal period with Skydance

Photo of Paramount
The logo of Paramount Pictures studios is pictured Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 24, 2023. (REUTERS/David Swanson/File Photo)
By Dawn Chmielewski | REUTERS

Sony Pictures Entertainment and private equity firm Apollo Global Management on Wednesday submitted a $26 billion offer for Paramount Global but have yet to receive a response as of Friday, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A special committee of the Paramount board, created to evaluate offers for the company, has been holding exclusive deal talks with Skydance Media. That period of exclusivity ends Friday, and a separate source familiar with the matter said the exclusivity period is unlikely to be extended, opening the doors to other bidders.

The companies submitted a non-binding offer letter on Wednesday, signed by Sony Pictures Chief Executive Tony Vinciquerra and Apollo partner Aaron Sobel, a source confirmed to Reuters. The $26 billion offer is a combination of cash and assumption of debt.

Apollo declined comment to Reuters, which reported in April that Sony’s SPE and Apollo were in talks on a joint bid. Paramount and Sony also declined comment on the Apollo-Sony offer, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Skydance and a spokesman for the Paramount special committee also declined comment.

SPE would hold a majority stake in the venture, a source previously told Reuters, and operate Paramount, whose movie library spans “Star Trek”, “Mission: Impossible” and Indiana Jones, alongside TV characters like SpongeBob SquarePants.

Shari Redstone’s media empire replaced its CEO Bob Bakish with a trio of executives on Monday, while four independent members of the Paramount board are set to step down at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on June 4.

Some shareholders have raised concerns about the deal with David Ellison’s Skydance and have urged Paramount to consider other offers, including the one from Apollo.

Bloomberg News has reported that Redstone, who owns a majority of Paramount’s voting shares, and Ellison have made concessions to make the deal more appealing to shareholders.

PARAMOUNT’S STRUGGLES

Paramount has been struggling to recover from last year’s months-long strikes by Hollywood writers and actors, a soft advertising market and cord-cutting in the United States that has eroded profit for its TV business.

Its streaming service also widely trails rivals such as Netflix and Disney+ in subscriber numbers – even though Redstone had hoped the merger of CBS and Viacom in 2019 would help the combined company, later renamed Paramount Global, compete better.

Shares of Paramount have fallen more than 65% since then, losing more than $14 billion in market value.

At Wednesday’s closing price of $12.26, the company was valued at $7.67 billion, according to LSEG data. It has more than $14 billion of debt.

The potential acquisition would help SPE grow its share of the North American box office. Sony Pictures earned $1.01 billion in U.S. and Canada box office revenue last year, compared with Paramount’s $842.4 million, according to data from Comscore.

SPE, a unit of Tokyo-based Sony Group, says its operations span movie and television production, acquisition and distribution, digital content creation and distribution, studio facility operation and the development of new entertainment products, services and technologies.

The group has more than 3,500 movie titles and notable franchises such as “Jumanji”, “Resident Evil” and James Bond.

Editor’s Note: Reporting by Surbhi Misra and Harshita Mary Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Alexander Smith, Kirsten Donovan and Nick Zieminski

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