Skydance-Paramount merger resurrected from the dead

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One day after billionaire Barry Diller raised his hand as a potential buyer of the legendary studio, the Paramount-Skydance merger is reportedly back on. Photo credit: Fred Prouser/Reuters.

Merger talks between Paramount Global’s controlling shareholder Shari Redstone and Skydance Media’s CEO David Ellison are reportedly back on. The twist comes one day after billionaire Barry Diller raised his hand as a potential buyer of the legendary studio. Kim Masters and guest Banterer Lucas Shaw of Bloomberg News discuss the latest in the saga that’s gripped Hollywood for months. 

Resuming talks? Redstone has entered exclusive negotiations with Ellison of Skydance for the third time. “The first time they didn't end up consummating anything [and] the second time it seemed like they were going to do it and she pulled out at the last minute” says Lucas Shaw. This offer came out of the blue. “It sounds like they never fully cut off contact,” he says, “and there's been sort of a quiet behind-the-scenes conversation about how to revive this deal over the last couple of weeks.

What about Diller? Meanwhile, 82-year-old billionaire Barry Diller, chairman of Expedia and the digital media firm IAC, has thrown his hat in the ring as a potential buyer. Masters notes that Diller has a long history with Paramount. He ran the company’s film studio decades ago and then tried to buy the company in 2009, ultimately getting outbid by Shari’s father, Sumner Redstone. Masters wonders what Diller’s aims would be with the Paramount, though, she adds, “we don't really know what David Ellison's idea is either.” Shaw sees a similar playbook for both Diller and Ellison: “I feel like they're all kind of going to do some version of the same thing – cut costs, try to reformulate a new streaming strategy, and sell some assets that they don't feel like they need.”

BET for sale? One asset Paramount’s three CEOs may be looking to drop is the BET Media Group. BET CEO Scott Mills, backed by private equity firm CC Capital, has reportedly made an offer of about $1.6 billion.




Kim Masters


Robin Estrin