Paramount Global to merge with Skydance Media

Paramount Global, the parent company of Network 10, is set to merge with Skydance Media as part of a new deal worth US$8 billion.

As part of the two-step transaction, Paramount’s non-executive chair Shari Redstone will sell her family’s majority stake in National Amusements, which holds the controlling share of Paramount, to a consortium led by the production company and RedBird Capital, paving the way for a merger.

The new venture will be led by Skydance founder and CEO David Ellison, who will step into the role of chairman and CEO, with former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell serving as president.

The deal ends months of speculation about the future of Paramount, which had $US417 million operating loss over the three months ended March 31, 2024, following a $US1.226 billion operating loss a year earlier.

In February, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Network 10 employees would be among those impacted by the company’s plans to cut 800 jobs, as outlined in a memo from CEO Bob Bakish.

Following the exit of Bakish in April, executives Brian Robbins, George Cheeks and Chris McCarthy took over as co-CEOs going on to announce plans to streamline the company with US$500 million in cost savings, leading to speculation of further layoffs.

Skydance, which has partnered with Paramount on films such as Jack Reacher and Star Trek Into Darkness, has reportedly been in talks to take over the business since last year, with a previous iteration of the deal rejected by Redstone last month.

Ellison said he was “incredibly grateful” Redstone and her family, who have owned Paramount since Shari Redstone’s father Sumner bought the studio in a bidding war in 1994.

“This is a defining and transformative time for our industry and the storytellers, content creators, and financial stakeholders who are invested in the Paramount legacy and the longevity of the entertainment economy,” he said.

We are committed to energizing the business and bolstering Paramount with contemporary technology, new leadership, and a creative discipline that aims to enrich generations to come.”

Redstone hoped the deal would enable Paramount’s continued success in “this rapidly changing environment”.

“In 1987, my father, Sumner Redstone, acquired Viacom and began assembling and growing the businesses today known as Paramount Global,” she said.

“He had a vision that ‘content was king’ and was always committed to delivering great content for all audiences around the world. That vision has remained at the core of Paramount’s success and our accomplishments are a direct result of the incredibly talented, creative, and dedicated individuals who work at the company. Given the changes in the industry, we want to fortify Paramount for the future while ensuring that content remains king. As a longtime production partner to Paramount, Skydance knows Paramount well and has a clear strategic vision and the resources to take it to its next stage of growth. We believe in Paramount and we always will.”

The deal includes a 45-day go-shop period, during which the Special Committee of Paramount’s Board of Directors, with the assistance of its financial advisors, will be permitted to field alternative acquisition proposals.