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Sharidise Lost

Shari Redstone
The situation at Paramount is looking increasingly precarious for Gabelli, Rogers, and the other non-Redstone Class A shareholders. Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages/AP Images
William D. Cohan
May 1, 2024

Mario Gabelli, the longtime value investor and money manager, is the largest non-Shari Redstone owner of Paramount Class A shares—the rarefied class of stock that allows holders, theoretically anyway, to vote on the future direction of the company. And Mario has been hanging around this hoop for a very, very long time, presumably because he expects to receive a payoff at some point. So far, he has been unlucky, and his prospects for success are dim, indeed. In the last quarter of 2023, he even increased his stake in Paramount voting stock from 4 million shares to 5 million, presumably to maximize his leverage and ensure he doesn’t get screwed in an unsavory takeover bid. 

Like many men his age, the 81-year-old Gabelli isn’t a social media native. Despite his fortune, or because of it, he has about 32,000 followers on X, with whom he infrequently engages. (He follows one person, a friend from Chincoteague Island, Virginia.) But Gabelli has taken to the tortured platform in recent days to signal his distress, and his intentions, as the final chapter of this saga unfolds. In particular, I’m getting the sense that he is sending some subtle messages to the two groups of Paramount suitors—David Ellison-RedBird Capital-KKR, and Apollo-Sony Pictures—and to Paramount’s special committee of the board of directors, charged with blessing a deal for the company. He may also be telegraphing his wishes to Redstone herself, who owns 77 percent of the Paramount voting stock and therefore can do pretty much whatever she wants.