Paramount tycoon Shari Redstone pulls the plug on proposed Skydance merger

The media tycoon behind Paramount Pictures pulled the plug on a proposed multibillion-dollar merger, after months of negotiations over the storied Hollywood giant.

National Amusements, the vehicle that owns Shari Redstone’s controlling stake in Paramount, said it had been unable to reach mutually acceptable terms with Skydance Media.

Advanced talks with Skydance had raised the prospect of an end to months of fevered speculation over the future of Paramount’s global entertainment empire. The Wall Street Journal first reported that discussions between the two sides were over.

Paramount Global, the conglomerate behind Paramount Pictures, also owns prominent media assets including CBS, Nickelodeon, MTV and the UK’s Channel 5.

Redstone, the firm’s controlling shareholder and chair, has spent months considering whether to sell her stake, and drew a line under her family’s decades-long stewardship of Paramount.

Skydance, the production group, is led by the producer David Ellison, son of Larry Ellison, the tech tycoon who co-founded Oracle. It assembled a consortium of investors to buy National Amusements, and then merge with Paramount.

Shares in Paramount dropped 8% on Tuesday after it was reported that discussions had been ended.

Several suitors are still said to still be circling. Others reported to have expressed interest in buying National Amusements include the producer Steven Paul and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr.

Paramount Global, formed when CBS merged with Viacom in 2019, has been hit hard by the decline of cable TV, and the high cost of entering the streaming wars. Its shares have halved over the past year.

The prospect of a blockbuster deal has loomed large over the firm for months. Bob Bakish, its chief executive, departed abruptly in April following reports of tensions with Redstone.

Reuters contributed reporting

The Guardian

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