David Ellison's Skydance Media sweetens offer for Paramount

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David Ellison’s Skydance Media and its investment partners have increased their offer to Paramount Global board members, signaling the technology scion’s strong intent to take over the storied media company.

Two people close to the discussions who were not authorized to comment confirmed the new offer, but precise terms were not disclosed.

The move comes less than a month after Skydance’s exclusive negotiating window expired without a deal. Since then, Paramount board members have been considering a rival $26-billion bid from Sony Pictures Entertainment and Apollo Global Management, but those talks have been slow, knowledgeable people have said.

Controlling shareholder Shari Redstone has long preferred Skydance’s proposal, which would give her family a premium on their voting shares.

Both sides recognized that previous proposals by Skydance — joined by RedBird Capital Partners and KKR — would not pass muster with shareholders, including those beyond the Redstone family who hold voting A-class shares, knowledgeable people have said. The new proposal is expected to provide more incentive to calm the shareholder base.

Redstone’s willingness to work exclusively with Ellison to forge a complicated two-phase transaction has infuriated investors, caused months of tensions in the boardroom and contributed to the ouster of Paramount Chief Executive Bob Bakish. Four Paramount board members are stepping down next week at the company’s annual shareholders meeting.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the new bid.

This is a developing story.

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