David Ellison & RedBird Capital Kicking Paramount Global’s Tires Via National Amusements – The Dish

Business

EXCLUSIVE: There’s a lot of noise in town about Skydance Boss David Ellison and RedBird Capital making a go at Paramount Global, but via National Amusements.

The Michael Redstone-founded, Norwood, Mass.-based exhibitor owns 77% of Paramount’s Class A (voting) shares. For anyone wanting to take control of Paramount Global, the trojan horse is by taking over National Amusements’ voting shares.

All of this is loose lipped chatter right now. But as the old saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Reps for RedBird Capital and Skydance didn’t return request for comment. Paramount Global tells us no comment.

What happens next? Certainly, RedBird and Skydance don’t want anything to do with running KCBS-TV, or the cable networks, right? There’s a lot under the umbrella they probably don’t want. Oversee of IP and Paramount Pictures makes sense. However, making a play for Paramount’s Class A voting shares would give RedBird and Skydance control of the conglom without buying it outright. From there, they could piecemeal try to offload CBS, TV stations, and package some of the cable channels — all possibilities.

Paramount Global has tried to sell Noggin and BET Media Group, and they sold Bellator to Professional Fighters League, and unloaded Simon & Schuster to private investment firm KKR for $1.62 billion. They’ve also sold off Television City on Fairfax and Beverly in Los Angeles.

Paramount Global’s current market cap is $9.9 billion, and closed today at $15.03.

Paramount has been facing a number of challenges of late, especially as it looks to compete in streaming. Its traditional businesses, including broadcast and cable TV, have been in decline, and advertising in its TV Media division fell 14% in the third quarter compared with the prior year.

Interest rates are an important variable. They have risen dramatically over the past year, which has made the proposition of swinging big M&A deals a lot more daunting for many players. The result has been a chill in the air in terms of overall dealmaking. But with Paramount, there has been a growing sense in the financial community that the best window for current ownership to sell is now.

As we reported recently, Paramount Global will start the New Year with some big bills to pay and questions swirling about its creditworthiness.

RedBird Capital had made a significant financial commitment in launching Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Artists Equity production company which produced the Amazon MGM feature, Air.

Stay tuned…

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