Redstone, Skydance reportedly reach new Paramount deal, but 'whole lot of uncertainty' remains


Paramount (PARA) stock jumped on Wednesday, gaining as much as 8% in morning trade after the Wall Street Journal reported the media giant’s proposed merger with Skydance Media is back on the table in a new form.

Shari Redstone, who controls Paramount through her family’s holding company National Amusements (NAI), ended merger talks with Skydance in June after months of back and forth talks.

Under the new proposed agreement, according to the Journal, Skydance would purchase National Amusements for $1.75 billion and then merge with Paramount, which owns a slew of media assets, including CBS, BET, Showtime, and MTV, along with its namesake studio business and streaming platform.

The two sides have also agreed to a 45-day “go-shop period,” which allows other potential bidders to submit offers.

It’s just a whole lot of uncertainty,” Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst Geetha Ranganathan said of the new deal in an interview with Yahoo Finance, adding the terms are “not very clear at this point.

But what does seem more clear is that Redstone will be protected from the threat of litigation from nonvoting shareholders — a top reason why the media mogul killed the deal last month.

“It looks like, this time around, there is much stronger indemnification language in the agreement that should or could potentially protect her from a lot of the upcoming litigation,” Ranganathan said.

But that doesn’t mean things are entirely set in stone, especially if history is any indication.

Skydance, which has previously collaborated with Paramount on the production of popular film franchises including “Mission Impossible,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” and “Transformers,” reportedly revised its offer multiple times after nonvoting shareholders expressed concerns over the terms of the initial discussions, which would have given Redstone $2 billion in cash as the first step in the transaction.

Shari Redstone, chairwoman of ViacomCBS and president of National Amusements, reacts as she celebrates her company's merger at the Nasdaq Market site in New York, U.S., December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidShari Redstone, chairwoman of ViacomCBS and president of National Amusements, reacts as she celebrates her company's merger at the Nasdaq Market site in New York, U.S., December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Shari Redstone, chairwoman of ViacomCBS and president of National Amusements, reacts as she celebrates her company’s merger at the Nasdaq Market site in New York, U.S., December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (REUTERS / Reuters)

The messiness of the negotiations has been an overhang for the company at large.

Amid the drama, Paramount announced the departure of CEO Bob Bakish in late April after he was reportedly at odds with Redstone over the Skydance deal. He has since been replaced by an “Office of the CEO” consortium made up of three company division heads.

The upside in Paramount’s stock price, however, signals “how excited [shareholders are] that M&A is back again on the table,” Ranganathan said.

“The one thing that we have to remember though is that the longer and longer this whole process drags out, the less and less value that the assets will have,” the analyst said.

Alexandra Canal is a Senior Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on X @allie_canal, LinkedIn, and email her at alexandra.canal@yahoofinance.com.

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