Paramount shares jump on sale to Skydance speculation

Paramount Global’s controlling shareholder has reportedly held talks with Top Gun: Maverick producer Skydance about a potential sale of the studio via a takeover of Shari Redstone’s National Amusements.

The studio’s shares rose around 13% on Friday amid speculation about its future.

According to the Financial Times, citing unnamed sources, conversations are at an early stage. Skydance is headed by David Ellison, the sone of billionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison, with private equity outfit Redbird Captial holding a stake.

According to the FT, Skydance is interested in the film studio, but could acquire the TV business, including CBS and loss-making Paramount+, with a view to selling them on to other buyers.

Paramount shares had earlier jumped in value on Friday after Puck magazine reported that Ellison and RedBird founder Gerry Cardinale were leading an approach, said to be at a very early stage, that could see SkyDance acquire a majority stake in National Amusements, Paramount Global’s parent company, controlling 80% of voting shares but only 10% of the financial interest.

The reports (by Puck and separately by Hollywood trade pub Deadline) speculated that an acquisition of National Amusements could be more straightforward and less costly than a direct acquisition of Paramount itself, giving the buyers the option of disposing of the TV and streaming assets (or potentially shutting Paramount+ down in favour of a licensing model).

The latest speculation around the future of Paramount and upping of its share price comes after the Wall Street Journal reported a week ago that the studio was mulling a a streaming partnership that could see Apple TV+ and Paramount+ offered as a bundle with a discount.

According to the report, the pair have been in talks about a possible tie-up to more effectively compete with market leader Netflix.

Paramount recently moved from bundling Paramount+ with Showtime to combining them in a single unified offering in the US.

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