David Ellison’s Skydance is said to have made a preliminary offer to buy Shari Redstone’s stake in National Amusements, the family holding company that controls Paramount Global, according to a Bloomberg report.
Reps for Skydance, National Amusements and Paramount Global declined to comment.
Deadline is hearing the the situation is “status quo” regarding Skydance’s pursuit of the media company, which was first reported in Deadline in early December, and there’s a way to go in clinching a deal for the ultimate prize, Paramount Global.
National Amusements controls about 80% of Paramount Global’s voting stock. Ellison is mainly interested in the studio but Paramount won’t sell its crown jewel alone. Acquiring Redstone’s NAI stake would be cheaper than buying the entire company outright. The idea is that Ellison would merge Skydance and Paramount and look to divest the company’s other assets.
Warner Bros. Discovery was also kicking the tires of NAI/Paramount Global with CEO David Zaslav having conversations with both Shari Redstone and Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish. Wall Street gave that proposition a big thumbs down given WBD’s debt and struggle to get its own financial house in order since Discovery and Warner Media merged.
Rumors about a Paramount deal have heated up as the company’s financials are strained due to streaming losses, the ongoing decline of linear television and a weak ad market. The company is planning a round of layoffs involving hundreds of staffers.
Ellison’s backers would including his father, billionaire Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison. The Ellison family are Skydance’s majority shareholders. The fast-growing studio is a financier and producer on Paramount films including the smash Top Gun: Maverick, TV series and an animation division that has a multi-year deal with Netflix.
The move to go through National Amusements has been controversial with some investors of Paramount Global. Shari Redstone would receive a premium for her stake in NAI in that scenario, Paramount Global shareholders would not.
Anthony D’Alessandro contributed to this report