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Barry Diller’s IAC Explores Paramount Bid (Report)

Barry Diller’s IAC Explores Paramount Bid (Report)

Barry Diller is taking a look at Paramount Global.

The mogul’s digital media firm IAC is the latest to throw its hat in the ring to make a deal with Shari Redstone’s National Amusements, multiple sources told The New York Times for a report published Monday.

In June, Redstone ended talks for a David Ellison-led Skydance Media offer to effectively take over Paramount. Ellison’s Skydance Media, RedBird Capital and an investment firm KKR aimed for a potential deal in which that group would take over Redstone’s National Amusements, which controls Paramount, and merge the company with Skydance, which has co-produced Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible features.

The last megadeal for a major studio was Disney’s $71 billion acquisition in 2019 of most of the assets of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, which made 20th Century Studios and Searchlight labels in the Disney empire. Amazon’s buy of the historic MGM studio in 2022 for $8.5 billion further winnowed the field of independent mid-major studios, which also counts Lionsgate as well as upstart entrants like A24.

In preparation for the sealing of a deal, Paramount parted ways on April 29 with CEO Bob Bakish, who had run the company since it recombined Viacom and CBS in December 2019. In the interim, a trio of veteran executives under the title “Office of the CEO” — Brian Robbins, George Cheeks and Chris McCarthy — are steering the business of Paramount and its brands, from Paramount Pictures to Paramount+, Showtime, CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and BET, until a new long-term plan is unveiled.

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During a 9-minute earnings call on April 29 that took no questions from analysts, the executive trio did not address any Paramount sale possibilities an presented only a flexible framework articulated by McCarthy on the company’s future: “First, make the most of our hit content. Second, strengthen our balance sheet. And third, optimize our streaming strategy.”

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