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Billionaire Shareholder May Back New Paramount-Skydance Deal

Mario Gabelli, a key voting shareholder in the holding company that controls Paramount, has now signalled that he may not block a revised deal that is believed to be in the works between Paramount Global and Skydance Media.

ChannelNews reported last week that Australia’s Network 10 and Paramount+ owner, Paramount Global, appear to have revived their talks with Skydance. The two entities are now believed to have reached a preliminary agreement for Skydance to buy Shari Redstone’s National Amusements for A$2.61 billion and merge with Paramount.

Previously, significant Paramount investors, including Gabelli, expressed their disapproval for a deal that would cash out the Redstone family at a premium and also dilute the holdings of other shareholders in a merger.

However, now Gabelli says that it appears the reworked deal may not be unfavourable for shareholders like him.

“I may not sell stock if there is a deal with Skydance. I need to see the structure of the transaction,” Gabelli told the New York Post. Gabelli said the numbers appeared favourable, but that he’s still holding off on a final verdict.

“If Skydance is paying A$2.61 billion for NAI and NAI has A$741.71 million of debt that’s A$1.85 billion left for NAI shareholders,” Gabelli said. “That’s A$29.67 per share.”

Under the new deal, National Amusements — the holding company that controls Paramount’s voting shares, in which Redstone owns a 77 per cent stake and Gabelli owns a majority of the rest — is not mandating that the Paramount merger be approved by a majority of non-Redstone shareholders.

Gabelli also noted that any deal would require Skydance to seek approvals from the Federal Communications Commission which under current laws mandates that a change of 25 per cent of ownership requires FCC approval.

Under the new deal, the sellers will also have 45 days to seek better offers. Gabelli hinted that Redstone could possibly meet Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav who has expressed interest in Paramount. “Zaslav wants to do something one-on-one with Shari because Netflix has such a big advantage on both of them,” said Gabelli.

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