Paramount and Warner Bros.Discovery are in talks to merge, Deadline reported earlier today.
Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish and WBD boss David Zaslav met in New York yesterday to discuss a team-up. “It was all rather preliminary,” the source told the site.
Shari Redstone, CEO of Paramount’s controlling shareholder, National Amusements, “is on a bit of a listening tour to see what she might be able to get if she decides to sell the company or part of it,” he added.
Says the trade, “Word of the talks surfaced not long after Bloomberg reported that Paramount had also been discussing the potential sale of BET Media, which includes the BET and VH1 cable networks as well as studio and streaming operations. Potential buyers include Byron Allen and an investor group led by BET CEO Scott Mills and finance executive Shinh Chu of CC Capital Partners. Paramount had previously explored the sale of BET but had pulled it back after determining that the bids were too low.
Both WBD and Paramount face significant issues with debt as well as the hefty expenses required of anyone looking to compete in streaming. Since the April 2022 closing of WarnerMedia’s $43 billion merger with Discovery, investors had pointed to the company’s debt as a concern. It also combined a large swath of cable TV assets against a backdrop of accelerating rates of cord-cutting. Shares in the merged company have been trading well below the price as of the deal close. Similarly, Paramount’s reunion of CBS and Viacom has not gone over well on the Street, with the stock sinking to single digits earlier this year and remaining nearly two-thirds below its level at the close of the Viacom-CBS deal in 2019.”