Paramount’s Bob Bakish reportedly on the way out

Bob Bakish

Bob Bakish

Paramount is reportedly on the point of parting ways with its CEO, Bob Bakish, according to multiple press reports.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, said that Paramount was looking at replacing Bakish, who may resign under pressure as early as today, with a committee of executives who would run the media group on an interim basis.

Bakish, who was appointed CEO of Viacom in 2016 and of the combined Viacom-CBS company three years later, has previously been seen as loyal to the company’s ultimate boss, Shari Redstone.

However, according to reports, the pair have drifted apart over Bakish’s opposition to Redstone’s exclusive talks for the sale of National Amusements, Paramount’s controlling shareholder, to production outfit Skydance.

The Skydance talks have met with resistance from Paramount shareholders, who believe the structure of a deal will benefit Redstone and leave them disadvantaged.

Skydance CEO David Ellison, backed by his father, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and by private equity outfits RedBird and KKR, is seeking a deal whereby Skydance would acquire National Amusements, which controls 77% of Paramount’s voting shares, for around US$2 billion.

The second part of the deal would see Paramount acquire Skydance for a reported US$5 billion in an all-stock deal.

Sony Pictures Entertainment and private equity outfit Apollo Global Management are meanwhile expected to launch a joint bid for Paramount in competition with existing suitor Skydance, whose exclusive talks period is set to expire on May 3. However, a rival bid could be delayed if the exclusivity window is extended.

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