The Murdochs in M&A Land

Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch attend the quarter-final match of the 2018 U.S. Open at Arthur Ashe stadium on September 5, 2018 in Flushing Meadows, Queens.
Offloading some Fox assets to Zaz would certainly help the Murdochs accomplish their goal, at long last, of combining Fox Corp. and News Corp., thus putting all their eggs into one family basket. Photo: Jean Catuffe/GC Images
William D. Cohan
January 17, 2024

Consolidation season, after many false fits and starts, finally seems to be descending upon the mighty stewards of legacy media. Already, Bob Iger is ingesting Hulu, and Shari Redstone is ready to throw in the towel on her control of Paramount Global, hoping someone will come along to buy either National Amusements, the family holding company, or Paramount Global itself. Both potential Redstone exit scenarios are big-time long shots, at least in the current configuration, as my friend Rich Greenfield, the highly regarded media analyst at LightShed Partners, texted me on Sunday evening. “All the deal talk is vapor,” he wrote. “No one is dumb enough to buy Paramount right now.” 

I couldn’t agree more with Rich. There isn’t going to be a near-term sale of either NAI or Paramount Global for all the many reasons shared during the past few months: a regulatory headache for any strategic buyer; the risk that a financial buyer would have to immediately pay off Paramount’s $11.2 billion of senior notes upon a change of control; the losses in the streaming business; the withering of linear TV, despite the long tail of CBS; the increasing irrelevance of cable; and, of course, the company’s $14 billion of net debt.