Skydance and Paramount Restart Talks

By Chanak Maduranga

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Skydance and Paramount Restart Talks
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It’s back to the negotiating table.

Shari Redstone’s National Amusements (NAI) and David Ellison’s Skydance Media are reengaging on talks that could lead to a change in ownership for Paramount Global, a source confirms to The Hollywood Reporter. The next step is that the potential agreement goes to Paramount’s special committee of the board of directors. An NAI rep did not respond to a request for comment.

The move marks the latest twist in a corporate soap opera that saw Redstone walk away from a deal in June that would’ve effectively merged the owner of CBS, Showtime, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon with the multimedia production company that has co-financed Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible franchise entries. The New York Times first reported on Tuesday that talks have restarted.

Skydance, along with investment firms RedBird Capital and KKR, had on the table an agreement in which that group would take over Redstone’s National Amusements, which controls Paramount, and merge the company with Skydance.

David Ellison, the son of billionaire Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, launched what was originally called Skydance Productions in 2010 and has backed Paramount films including World War ZStar Trek Into Darkness and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The Santa Monica-based Skydance then expanded into television (think: Jack Ryan on Amazon), built out its John Lasseter-led animation efforts as well as a sports unit and interactive efforts. 

Following an exclusive window for talks and multiple revisions on the offers, a rep for National Amusements said on June 11 that the parties had “not been able to reach mutually acceptable terms regarding the potential transaction with Skydance Media for the acquisition of a controlling stake in NAI.”

That news sent Paramount Global into another wave of uncertainty, as the company had already ousted its chief executive, Bob Bakish, in April and installed an “office of the CEO” led by Brian Robbins, Chris McCarthy and George Cheeks to steady the ship in the interim.

At a town hall with employees in Los Angeles on June 25, Robbins acknowledged “what a difficult and disruptive period it has been” as staffers saw headlines about the stop-and-start process and multiple suitors (including Sony’s team-up with private equity giant Apollo as well as overtures from producer Steven Paul and mogul Byron Allen) while the company appeared to lose favor on Wall Street.

That “office of the CEO” plan has included cutting about $500 million in costs annually as well as hiring bankers to sell assets — a sale of BET Media Group appears to be back on the table — and looking to stem the tide on losses for its flagship streamer Paramount+, which has 71 million subscribers but lacks scale compared to Netflix and Disney.

Year to date, Paramount stock has fallen more than 25 percent.

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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