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New twist in Paramount Global saga as Sony said to be in talks to join Apollo bid

Paramount+’s Yellowstone spin-off 1883

Sony is reportedly in discussions with Apollo Global Management over a joint bid to acquire Paramount Global, marking the latest twist in the saga of the Shari Redstone-owned media company.

The New York Times (NYT) on Thursday reported that Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra had held talks with Apollo about teaming up to make a bid, although an official offer has not yet been submitted.

Under one potential deal structure, Apollo and Sony would make an all-cash offer for Paramount Global’s outstanding shares and take the company private via a joint venture, said NYT. Under the arrangement, Sony would hold a majority ownership position in Paramount and eventually buy out Apollo’s stake through a put-call agreement.

Paramount Global shares jumped 11% in after-hours trading following the NYT report, which comes as the media company remains in an exclusive 30-day negotiating window with David Ellison-led studio Skydance Media, whose bid is backed by private equity firms KKR, RedBird Capital Partners and billionaire Larry Ellison.

Apollo has already made two offers to Paramount Global, both of which have been turned down, according to reports. The first saw the private equity firm offering US$11bn to acquire Paramount’s film and TV studio, while the second was an offer to buy all of Paramount for US$27bn, including its debt.

The rejection of the latter bid prompted something of a revolt among some Paramount Global shareholders, who have claimed the deal is only in the best interests of Redstone and not the other stockholders.

The two-step deal would reportedly see Skydance acquire Paramount parent company National Amusements for around US$2bn, before Skydance is acquired by Paramount in an all-stock deal worth around US$5bn.

Paramount would be run by Ellison and Jeff Shell, the former NBCUniversal CEO who joined RedBird Capital last year, if a deal came together.

Last week, several shareholders, including Matrix Asset Advisors, Blackwood Capital Management and Aspen Sky Trust, called on Redstone and Paramount’s board to reconsider the offer from Apollo, with some threatening lawsuits if the Paramount-Skydance deal comes together.

If the Skydance negotiating window elapses and Sony does enter the fray, it would raise questions about what it would do with Paramount+, the streaming service behind series including Halo, Tulsa King, The Offer, Special Ops: Lioness and Yellowstone spin-offs 1883 and 1923.

The Japanese-headquartered conglomerate has until now pursued an “arms dealer” strategy, deliberately avoiding ownership of a major streaming service so that it can supply content to a variety of platforms without being beholden to one.

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