The Future of Paramount’s Media Empire Rests With Who Can Write the Bigger Check – The Average Joe
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    The Future of Paramount’s Media Empire Rests With Who Can Write the Bigger Check

    Noah Weidner

    January 31, 2024

    Hollywood’s big studio lots were the backbone of American entertainment for decades — churning out alluring tales that built up stars and transformed American culture. But today, debt and downsizing have cast a shadow over the dream factory, turning it into a place where fantasies go to die.

    And not even 63M subscribers can save you from this fate… Just ask Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA), the parent company of CBS, Comedy Central, and America’s fifth-largest streaming service, Paramount+.

    Redstone wants out: Traditional cable sales are declining, streaming services are losing money, and the box office is still struggling. With a crushing $15.6B debt load, Paramount’s stock has plummeted by 70% over the past five years — and righting this ship won’t be easy. After a decade of fending off prospective bidders, Paramount Chairman Shari Redstone is looking to sell the embattled media empire:

    • Redstone, who inherited the media empire from her father, maintains a 77% stake in the media giant through the holding company National Amusements.
    • As the largest shareholder, Redstone is the only thing standing between prospective buyers and the media giant — which could fetch billions.

    Who’s in the bidding war?

    David Ellison’s Skydance Media has been the most aggressive suitor for Paramount, making a preliminary offer to buy Redstone’s National Amusements last week. Yesterday, Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group made an unexpected $30B bid for the company, a 50% premium over the closing price the day prior. But their visions for Paramount’s future couldn’t be more different:

    • Ellison aims to merge Skydance and Paramount, maximizing film, TV, and streaming assets — while shedding unprofitable cable TV.
    • Allen leans towards prioritizing TV networks and streaming — selling the Paramount Pictures film studio, unprofitable IP, and real estate assets.

    It’s anyone’s game: While reports suggest talks are in an advanced stage, other suitors could bid — maybe even a competitor like Warner Bros. Discovery (NASDAQ:WBD). Shareholders have only modestly boosted the $PARA stock price for now, creating the perfect cliffhanger before the finale. And if Logan Roy could offer some advice, he’d probably say, just “take the ****ing money.”

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