EXCLUSIVE: We hear that Apollo Global Management, which was considering a bid for National Amusements, the Redstone family company that controls Paramount Global, is no longer considering it now.
Representatives for Apollo Global Management, Paramount Global and National Amusements declined to comment.
While the situation is still fluid and it may be too early to exclude Apollo from the process entirely, sources tell us the private equity firm co-founded by Marc Rowan-Josh Harris-Leon Black is nervous after the FCC blew up the hedge financing of the attempted offering. $8.6 billion from Standard General for the Tegna group of stations – a deal for which Apollo Global Management was expected to provide financing. The agreement was signed in 2022 and collapsed in May 2023.
Apollo is also an investor in Dune film studio Legendary Entertainment.
“Capital is not the issue, approval is the commodity; very few people can get FCC approval,” a person with knowledge of Paramount Global’s search told Deadline. Which means regulatory concerns, not access to capital, are the primary consideration in who takes control of Paramount Global or National Amusements.
“The FCC doesn’t want hedge fund operators getting close to local TV stations after what they did to newspapers,” the source added.
Bloomberg reported on Jan. 20 that Apollo reached out to BDT & MSD Partners, the investment bank that advises the Redstones.
Also in the mix is David Ellison, who plans to merge his Skydance Media with Paramount. He mainly has his eyes on the movie studio and relies on wealthy financiers, like his father, the billionaire co-founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison. Skydance investor RedBird Capital is also still in play in National Amusements.
Byron Allen went public several weeks ago with a $30 billion offering (including equity and outstanding debt) for Paramount Global. He is interested in keeping the broadcast assets, linear networks and potentially Paramount+, with Paramount's film studio and real estate offloaded.
Skydance investor RedBird Capital is still in play for National Amusements.
The Redstone family, led by Shari Redstone, controls 77% of the voting stock of Paramount, parent company of CBS, MTV and other film and TV properties. CBS just aired and Paramount+ aired Super Bowl LVIII, which saw the Kansas City Chiefs take down the San Francisco 49ers.
Following Allen's bid in late January, Deadline has learned that a special board committee was formed to evaluate any potential proposals for Paramount Global and provide an extra layer of scrutiny. Shari Redstone, the company's non-executive chairman and head of its controlling shareholder, National Amusements, is not a member of that special committee.
Paramount has a two-class ownership structure. The Redstone family trust, National Amusements, controls nearly 80% of the Class A voting shares, meaning any interested buyer who didn't want Shari looking over their shoulder would need to acquire NAI's stake, as well as Paramount, publicly traded.
Simply acquiring a controlling stake in NAI would anger minority shareholders and could result in legal fights if a buyer forced a deal or merger. Warren Buffett owns about 15% of the company.
Allen's offer is actually two-tiered – he is proposing $28.58 each for Paramount's voting shares and $21.53 for non-voting shares.