Bakish out as Paramount, leadership to be assumed by trio of execs

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With Paramount Global’s CEO Bob Bakish officially out as of April 29, 2024, the company then announced it would use a trio of executives to form the “Office of the CEO” to lead the company through a potential acquisition.

George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS, Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Showtime and MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks, and Brian Robbins, president and CEO of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon have all been selected to lead what the company has coined the “Office of the CEO.” 

These leaders essentially represent the major divisions with Paramount. 

It’s not clear if someone will actually be the CEO (as opposed to there simply being an office with the title in its name), with more details about how the arrangement will work promised at a later, unspecified date. It’s also not clear how leadership might continue if Paramount is not ultimately acquired in the near future.

Paramount is, of course, embroiled in negotiations with Skydance Media. It also had its quarterly earnings call, scheduled in advance, set for April 29, and still held it. 

Skydance reportedly offered its “best and final” deal for Paramount April 29.

The complex deal appears to be set to be structured first as Skydance buying a controlling stake in shares of Paramount. Including Class B shares would allow investors holding those shares to hopefully realize a premium on the stock value.

Paramount would then turn around and buy Skydance using stock, potentially valued as high as $5 billion. The deal also calls for Skydance CEO David Ellison, son of Oracle founder Larry Ellison, to lead the new company.

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If the Skydance deal falls through, Sony Pictures and Apollo Global Management are reportedly prepping a white knight all-cash offer.

Paramount and Skydance are facing the end of the duo’s exclusivity period May 3, 2024. They can still negotiate after this time, but other offers can also be considered. 

Bakish is reportedly going to walk away from Paramount with a severance package worth $50.6 million, according to a New York Times report. About $30 million of that wouldn’t be paid out until two years after his departure. 

Full text of the memo announcing Bakish’s departure:

As you know, Bob Bakish is stepping down from his role as CEO and from the Board, capping a 27-year career at Paramount.

With Bob’s departure, we have created an Office of the CEO. This Office will be comprised of three very talented senior Paramount Global executives: George Cheeks, President and CEO of CBS; Chris McCarthy, President and CEO, Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks; and Brian Robbins, President and CEO of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon, and they be will working closely with Naveen Chopra, CFO, and the Board of Directors.

We have tremendous confidence in George, Chris and Brian. Each of them has extensive experience as creative executives and business leaders with long track records of success. We have watched them work collaboratively for several years and we are excited about what they will accomplish together. As a team they bring to bear incredible knowledge and understanding of our business and will bring stability to the company while simultaneously developing a long-range strategic plan to take full advantage of the opportunities ahead for Paramount Global.

We will need all of you to help drive execution of that plan. The strength of Paramount has always been our people. As we continue to work tirelessly to create and deliver award-winning content, accelerate growth and drive value for our shareholders, we have no doubt that you will help propel Paramount Global to even new heights.

Finally, I wanted to end with a personal note of thanks to Bob. Among his countless contributions to the company, the one I most appreciate is his success in rebuilding the great culture Paramount. We wish him the very best.

Shari Redstone

Full text of the memo announcing the “Office of the CEO”:

Paramount Team,

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Following up on Shari’s note, we want to reach out to briefly address today’s announcement.

We’d like to thank Shari and the Board for putting their trust in us. This new structure will allow us to continue leveraging the power of the entire company. Ours is a partnership built on respect, camaraderie and, most importantly, a shared love of Paramount Global, its employees and our world-class content.

We also want to thank Bob for his leadership, many contributions and his support of our brands and businesses. We wish him well and much success in the days ahead.

Going forward, we are finalizing a new long-term plan to best position this storied company to reach new and greater heights in our rapidly changing world. Alongside our many accomplished leaders and incredible teams, we’re excited to take these next steps together. Today’s strong Q1 earnings is a direct reflection of your incredible hard work, and we ask that you continue to stay focused as we move into this next chapter.

We know this has been a challenging time, and the days ahead may be equally challenging as we adapt and collaborate in new ways together. The work we will need to do together is important and will set us up best for long term success. Please know we will move forward with purpose, focus and passion on behalf of all our important stakeholders – all of you, our teams, our shareholders, creative partners, advertisers, and distribution partners.

It’s a lot of news to digest and you probably have a lot of questions. We will be in touch over the days ahead with more updates including a town hall. Thank you for everything you do and for what we will do together in the future.

With much appreciation,

George, Chris and Brian

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