Shari’s Choice: The Legendary Angle

shari redstone
Beyond the near-daily twists, it’s clear that the Paramount glacier is melting faster than anticipated, and Shari needs to act. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
March 22, 2024

Something interesting has been left out of all the media coverage of the Apollo Global Management bid for the Paramount studio. If you missed it, the Journal followed up this week on the Bloomberg and Axios reports of the private equity firm’s interest in Shari Redstone’s teetering media company with an offer number: $11 billion, plus some debt, for the “film and TV studio” (scare quotes mine; I’ll explain in a moment). The rest of the Paramount Global assets—CBS, the zombie cable networks, Pluto TV and Paramount+—would stay with Shari, at least until she could find different buyers for them.

That’s a generous bid—far more than Paramount Global’s $7.7 billion market capitalization (though with the debt its enterprise value is much larger), at least before the stock price shot up on the report, and more than what most have said the studio and library are worth. But what hasn’t been mentioned is the other name on the offer letter sent to Paramount C.E.O. Bob Bakish and his committee of independent directors. According to two sources, the bid came from Apollo and Legendary Entertainment, the film and TV studio that is jointly owned by Apollo, China’s Dalian Wanda Group, and management. That’s a key fact that may say a lot about what Apollo intends to do with Paramount, if (and that’s a big if) it can pry the studio away from Shari without taking the rest of the company. Reps for Paramount, Apollo, and Legendary declined to comment.