Paramount and Skydance Ink New Merger Deal Amid Uncertainty


Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA) saw its stock surge by as much as 8% on Wednesday following reports from the Wall Street Journal that the media giant is back in merger talks with Skydance Media. The proposed deal involves Skydance purchasing National Amusements, the holding company controlled by Shari Redstone, for $1.75 billion before merging with Paramount.

New Agreement Details

Shari Redstone, who controls Paramount through National Amusements, had previously ended merger discussions with Skydance in June after months of negotiations. Under the new terms, Skydance would acquire National Amusements and then merge with Paramount, which owns prominent media assets such as CBS, BET, Showtime, MTV, and its streaming platform.

Additionally, the new deal includes a 45-day “go-shop period,” allowing other potential bidders to submit offers, adding a layer of uncertainty to the proceedings.

Analyst Perspectives

“There’s a whole lot of uncertainty,” said Geetha Ranganathan, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, in an interview with Yahoo Finance. She pointed out that the terms of the new agreement “are not very clear at this point.”

One aspect that appears more certain is the protection for Shari Redstone from potential litigation by nonvoting shareholders, which was a key reason for halting the previous deal. “It looks like this time around, there is much stronger indemnification language in the agreement that should or could potentially protect her from a lot of the upcoming litigation,” Ranganathan added.

Historical Context and Current Dynamics

Skydance has a history of collaboration with Paramount, producing popular film franchises like “Mission Impossible,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” and “Transformers.” The initial merger discussions faced multiple revisions after nonvoting shareholders expressed concerns over terms that included a $2 billion cash payment to Redstone as the first step in the transaction.

The negotiations’ complexity has cast a shadow over the company, leading to significant changes, including the departure of CEO Bob Bakish in late April. Bakish reportedly clashed with Redstone over the Skydance deal. He has since been replaced by an “Office of the CEO” consortium made up of three division heads.

Shareholder Sentiment

Despite the uncertainties, the recent rise in Paramount’s stock price indicates shareholder excitement about the potential for mergers and acquisitions. “Shareholders are excited that M&A is back on the table,” Ranganathan noted.

However, she cautioned, “The longer this process drags out, the less value the assets will have.”

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