Paramount Global and Skydance Media agree to merger, David Ellison and Jeff Shell to lead

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David Ellison’s Skydance Media has finalized a deal with Paramount Global that positions Ellison as chairman and CEO of an expanded Paramount, while former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell will take over as president.

Shari Redstone, chairman of Paramount’s parent company National Amusements Inc., announced the agreement late Sunday.

In her statement, Redstone said, “In 1987, my father, Sumner Redstone, acquired Viacom and began assembling and growing the businesses today known as Paramount Global. 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. Our hope is that the Skydance transaction will enable Paramount’s continued success in this rapidly changing environment. 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 agreement involves a complex transaction that will see Paramount, CBS and the former Viacom assets leave the Redstone family’s control for the first time in decades. This deal still requires regulatory approvals, particularly from the FCC due to the inclusion of Paramount Global’s television stations.

According to Bloomberg News, a special committee of Paramount Global’s board of directors, tasked with reviewing merger and acquisition options, has agreed to revised terms for the merger with Skydance. The full board of Paramount Global will review the pact, and an official announcement is expected early Monday before the markets open.

The deal gives Paramount Global a 45-day period to seek matching or superior offers before finalizing the agreement with Skydance.

Potential contenders such as Barry Diller and Edgar Bronfman Jr. have already expressed interest in acquiring National Amusements. The previous attempt to merge Skydance with Paramount last month was abruptly halted by National Amusements due to concerns about closing the deal, but renewed negotiations led to this updated agreement.

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Skydance’s effort to secure the merger is backed by RedBird Capital and other equity players

This merger marks a significant shift in the media landscape, with David Ellison, son of Oracle founder Larry Ellison, emerging as a major player in Hollywood.

Skydance and Paramount have a history of collaboration, co-producing major film franchises such as “Mission: Impossible,” “Transformers,” and “Terminator.” Paramount Pictures, one of the oldest Hollywood studios, has faced significant financial challenges, with its market value dropping from nearly $60 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic to $8.3 billion as of Sunday evening. Paramount+ has grown to 71 million subscribers globally but remains behind streaming giants like Netflix and Disney, while its legacy cable business continues to struggle.

Shell faced scrutiny for an “inappropriate relationship” with a woman within the company after a sexual harassment and sex discrimination complaint. He was later removed from his position at NBCU. 

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