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Handicapping Paramount’s Ellison-Apollo Endgame

shari redstone
Shari Redstone, Paramount's controlling shareholder, has been presented with a stark choice. Photo: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
April 25, 2024

More than four months after I first reported that David Ellison and his Skydance Media backers were kicking the tires on Paramount Global, its controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone, has been presented with a stark choice. She can accept Ellison’s $2 billion offer for National Amusements Inc., which controls 77 percent of Paramount Global, the owner of the Paramount film and television studio, CBS, and other TV and streaming assets. (Paramount would then be merged with Skydance, giving Ellison’s new company a $5 billion valuation, and the whole thing would be kept public.) Or… there’s Apollo’s $26 billion offer to take Paramount Global private—$12 billion for the equity and the assumption of $14 billion of net debt. That bid might also include Sony Pictures, which could push the offer price up further. Very different options. And Shari, in choosing to negotiate exclusively with Ellison, clearly favors his bid.  

Both my colleague William D. Cohan and I have been writing a lot about the Paramount dealmaking, and it’s clear we have different perspectives on the best path forward. Bill, a former banker, has been critical of the Skydance offer and how Paramount’s non-Redstone shareholders might fare if Shari takes it and runs. I’m more of a Hollywood person, so I understand Shari’s desire to keep her father’s company intact. I also fear the impact of a private equity-owned Paramount, especially if the studio is merged with Sony Pictures, which would potentially eliminate yet another major buyer of film and TV projects, not to mention thousands of jobs.