Apollo offers $11 billion for Paramount’s Hollywood studio, source says

By Dawn Chmielewski

(Reuters) – Private equity firm Apollo Global Management has offered $11 billion for Paramount Global’s Paramount Pictures film studio, a person with knowledge of the offer said on Wednesday, adding to takeover interest in the media conglomerate.

The film studio is considered the jewel of the Paramount media conglomerate, with an expansive movie library that includes classics such as “The Godfather” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” as well as blockbuster franchises like “Mission: Impossible,” “Star Trek” and “Transformers.” It has attracted interest from many suitors over the years, including recently.

Shari Redstone, the media conglomerate’s controlling shareholder through her stake in parent company National Amusements, has been reluctant to part with the studio that her father, the late Sumner Redstone, acquired in 1994.

The Financial Times newspaper reported that Redstone was unconvinced by Apollo’s offer for the studio and is instead negotiating a rival deal with billionaire David Ellison, citing people briefed on the matter.

Skydance Media CEO Ellison has been in talks to acquire National Amusements, the holding company of the Redstone family, as a way to take control of Paramount Global. National Amusements directly or indirectly owns 77% of the voting shares of Paramount, giving it control of the firm’s 100-year-old film studio and television networks, including CBS, Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central.

Paramount Global declined to comment on Apollo’s offer, and Apollo did not respond to requests for comment. Paramount did not respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours on the FT report, while Redstone could not be immediately reached.

The deterioration of the global entertainment business has wiped out billion of dollars of value from the media company, formed through the reunion of CBS and Viacom in 2019. Since then, Paramount’s stock market value has tumbled by about $17 billion to $7.7 billion.

The Redstone family considers the media asset undervalued and is exploring options. Paramount’s shares closed up nearly 12% on Wednesday after the Wall Street Journal first reported the news of Apollo’s bid.

Should Apollo succeed in its bid for Paramount Pictures, it could potentially combine the studio with another of its Hollywood investments, Legendary Entertainment, the studio behind such films as “Dune” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

Apollo invested $760 million to acquire a minority stake in Legendary in 2022.

Apollo and Ellison are not the only ones making a play for Paramount.

Media entrepreneur Byron Allen submitted a $30 billion offer for Paramount Global, including debt and equity, Allen Media Group said in an emailed statement to Reuters late in January. Allen is focused on acquiring the television networks and stations, and selling off other assets, such as the film studio, according to one person familiar with his thinking.

The various deal scenarios suggest the potential for a break-up of the assets that Sumner Redstone assembled into a media empire, according to one person close to the discussions.

(Reporting by Arsheeya Bajwa in Bengaluru and Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Harshita Mary Varghese and Akanksha Khushi; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, William Maclean, Leslie Adler and Janane Venkatraman)