Paramount Global shares jumped 13% Friday as investors cheered news that Sony Pictures Entertainment is talking with Apollo Global Management about joining Apollo’s bid for Paramount.

The beleaguered stock ended the day at $12.44 after registering more than twice its normal trading volume. Shares reached their highest point since February, offering fresh evidence that many investors appear to be gravitating toward the Apollo/Sony scenario, largely for structural reasons. Importantly, even if the two entities joined forces, they are not yet officially in the arena. For the next two weeks, David Ellison’s Skydance Media, backed by RedBird Capital and other investors, is in an exclusive negotiating window with Paramount’s controlling shareholder, National Amusements.

While Skydance appeals to many media industry vets given Ellison’s strong track record and enthusiasm for keeping Paramount Pictures intact, the deal it is pursuing has inherent strings attached. National Amusements Inc., which is run by Shari Redstone, owns 77% of Paramount’s voting shares but only about 10% of its equity. That means a deal for NAI risks diluting other shareholders. Thus the chilly reception thus far on Wall Street, though it is worth noting that the negotiations are still continuing.

“It’s hard to know what investors are reacting to when so much is up in the air about what shape the different deals would actually take,” one dealmaker familiar with the Paramount talks told Deadline.

Apollo has made separate overtures for Paramount Pictures as a separate unit as well as for all of Paramount Global. Neither was embraced by Redstone. Reports of a $26 billion price tag on the latter offer, including the assumption of Paramount’s debt, triggered a previous surge in Paramount’s stock. As of the end of this week, Paramount’s market value is around $8.5 billion.

Chris Marangi, Co-CIO of Value at Gabelli Funds, believes Paramount could ultimately be worth $30 a share (well north of a potential Apollo-Sony offer in the range of $20 to $25 a share. Marangi is not an unbiased party, of course – Gabelli, an asset management firm, owns the second-highest stake in Paramount voting shares after NAI.

“Shari is looking to sell her stake, which she can do,” Marangi said in a statement. “But how Skydance merges their business into Paramount in a way that benefits all shareholders is the sticky part. That’s the part that’s potentially subject to litigation.”

Sony has explored other M&A options in the sector, Marangi noted, describing the potential combination as “quite synergistic.”

Jim Lebenthal, chief equity strategist for Cerity Partners, is a longtime investor in Paramount. Speaking to CNBC on Friday, he described the experience of holding Paramount shares for an extended period a “horror show” given their deterioration and various ups and downs with the company’s performance. He said Redstone remains a “wild card,” he added, in terms of the ultimate direction of a deal given her father, Sumner Redstone’s long quest to acquire Paramount Pictures and the other building blocks of the former Viacom.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *