Sony Pictures-Apollo officially offer $26 billion for Paramount

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Sony Pictures and Apollo Global Management have officially put forward their offer of $26 billion for Paramount Global.

The offer, which was largely expected, was sent May 2, 2023, the eve of the the end of the exclusivity window between Paramount and Skydance Media.

Skydance, partnered with RedBird Capital, has been in negotiations with Paramount since earlier in 2024. The initial offer received shareholder backlash because it was structured in a way that would not benefit most shareholders beyond Shari Redstone, who controls Paramount through National Amusements ownership of Class A shares.

On April 29, 2024, Skydance came back to the table with what was reportedly its “best and final” offer, a deal that included a mix of cash and stock. The revised structure benefited Class B shareholders. The deal reportedly has Skydance buying a controlling stake in Paramount via stock and then Paramount turning around and buying Skydance for around $5 billion.

Originally pegged as a white knight offer, Sony and Apollo’s offer got positive reaction from Wall Street, sending Paramount stock up over 13% as of closing May 2. 

Sony and Apollo’s bid represents a premium of about $4 billion on the company’s current estimated value of $22 billion (Paramount also has around $14 billion in debt, and that debt has been downgraded in recent weeks).

While that offer, at least on paper, is significantly higher than what Skydance is offering, it’s not clear which offer would ultimately get the go-ahead. Much of that would likely depend on Redstone, who not only can sway decisions one way or another but also has to contend with other major stakeholders in the company on any potential acquisitions.

Earlier reports indicated that Apollo was only interested in “parts” of Paramount. It’s not clear if the new offer would ultimately result in the company selling off parts of Paramount.

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It’s been quite a busy few months for Paramount.

It briefly was courted by Warner Bros. Discovery for a buyout, but those talked were halted in February 2024. In January 2024, Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group made an offer of $30 billion to acquire Paramount, which included the company putting forward $14.3 billion to buy up Paramount shares while also taking on Paramount’s debt.

The deal was largely not considered serious — Allen Media has made other high offers for companies in the past without naming specifics on how financing for the deal might be achieved.

Paramount also parted ways with its now-former CEO Bob Bakish at the end of April 2024, even as acquisition talks were ongoing.

It then announced a team of three executives, representing the company’s key units, would lead the company, though specific details were not offered.

If the Sony-Apollo deal were to go through, Sony could bring a large portfolio of film and television content to the table either directly or through related companies. It also could create partnerships with Sony’s smart TV line, which included connected TV technology (retail giant Walmart recently agreed to buy TV manufacturer Vizio for $2.3 billion, largely in order to get control of its smart TV platform). 

Apollo is not new to the media business.

It already owns Endemol Shine Group as a 50-50 venture with Fox Corp. It also toyed with buying Nexstar Media Group back in 2019 but went on to buy Cox Media Group’s 14 TV stations for $3.1 billion instead.

There has also been speculation that an Apollo-owned Paramount could be bad news for employees and operations across the board.

Assuming Apollo wouldn’t ultimately break up Paramount, many consider Apollo, like other investment funds, focused on maximum returns and lower costs. The company has been criticized for cuts at the TV stations it owns, while others maintain Apollo has been able to maintain operations and staff levels as best as possible given the challenges facing legacy media.

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