Viacom chairman and CEO Philippe Dauman expects to have agreed to sell a stake in film studio Paramount Pictures by the end of the next financial quarter.
Various analysts and commentators have speculated minted Chinese companies such as e-commerce giant Alibaba were likely buyers of the “significant” minority stake, which was put up for sale last month.
Paramount’s assets include Paramount Television, which is producing Nickelodeon’s TV remake of Jack Black movie School of Rock.
Dauman told the Deutche Bank 2016 Media, Internet & Telecom Conference tat he was talking to interested parties, and wanted on with international and digital capabilities.
The Viacom chief described the deal on the table as “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for one of those players to get a significant interest in one of the major studios at a premium valuation”, adding Paramount was a “crown jewel out there”.
This was because the studio had a “very high-quality library”, a strong TV arm, and new licensed themed park plans,” Dauman added.
The plans to sell a stake in Paramount comes as Viacom’s share price continues to suffer in the wake of “disappointing operating performance” at the film studio, and concern over ratings at cable channels such as MTV and Comedy Central.
Dauman has also been embroiled in a boardroom struggle with Shari Redstone, who is non-executive director of Viacom parent National Amusements and daughter of majority shareholder Sumner Redstone.
Dauman tightened his grip on Viacom last month after he was named as successor to Sumner Redstone as chairman, a move that both Shari Redstone and some significant investors have publicly opposed.
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