The saga of Paramount Global’s future is more exciting than a lot of the studio’s films. And with the company poised to report earnings Monday afternoon, things are taking even more unexpected turns. Reports emerged early Monday that the company’s board is preparing to announce the departure of Paramount CEO Bob Bakish as early as next week, while David Ellison’s Skydance, which has been in negotiations to take over the entertainment giant, made its “best and final offer” on Sunday. (The stock was up more than 3% in midday trading Monday on the reports.)

It’s a fluid situation and there’s a lot to keep up with. Here’s where things stand as of Monday afternoon.

Who will run Paramount if Bakish leaves?

Paramount is not expected to name a new CEO if Bakish has been ousted. That will instead fall on the new owners, assuming a deal goes through in the near-term. Variety reports Paramount Pictures CEO Brian Robbins, CBS chief executive George Cheeks and MTV Entertainment Group President Chris McCarthy will all assume elements of the CEO position in the interim as part of what’s being called a leadership committee.

Should the Skydance deal close, Ellison is expected to assume the CEO role.

Why is Bakish expected to leave?

Bakish has been with the company for decades and was named Paramount CEO in 2019, with the strong backing of Shari Redstone. The relationship between the two has suffered, though, with Skydance’s $2 billion offer for her National Amusements, which has a 77% voting share in Paramount.

Bakish opposes that deal – and by removing him from his position, Redstone could be herding other investors toward supporting it, as the company would effectively be destabilized without a CEO. S&P, in late March, downgraded Paramount’s debt to junk, citing “accelerating declines” in its traditional TV business and continued uncertainty about the streaming unit. Without a CEO, the company’s future could be thrown into question.

Will Bakish be on Monday’s earnings call?

Deadline reports Paramount CEO Bakish will not be on the earnings call, which will allow him to bypass sticky questions from analysts about his future.

Does this mean a deal is imminent with Skydance?

Not necessarily. Paramount agreed, on April 4, to pause talks with all suitors for 30 days to focus on negotiations with Skydance. That period of exclusivity is about to end, which is why the “best and final” language was added to the last round of concessions made by Ellison. (The exclusivity window could be extended by the board.)

Redstone is now reportedly open to a “majority of the minority” vote, meaning minority shareholders will have a say in what happens next. If they overwhelmingly say they don’t want this merger with Skydance, it could scuttle the deal.

Why do some shareholders object to a deal with Skydance?

The Skydance offer, argue some shareholder groups, will negatively impact the value of Paramount shares for common shareholders. Skydance’s offer, technically, is solely focused on buying National Amusements, but the company is also insisting it will be allowed to merge that company and Paramount, which requires permissions from an independent committee of directors.

If the deal goes through, Skydance would be valued at about $5 billion. Ellison plans to raise between $4.5 and $5 billion in new equity, according to some reports, which opponents say would devalue the stock owned by current shareholders. .   

To appease those critics, Skydance has proposed a stock buyback of $3 billion, paying a premium to Paramount’s current share price, Bloomberg reports .

If the Skydance deal falls through, who else could buy Paramount?

Warner Bros. is still out of the running, but Sony and Apollo Global are said to be standing on the sidelines, ready to jump in if given the opportunity. The companies have discussed a joint bid, but have not made an official offer yet, given the period of exclusivity Skydance currently enjoys. That bid, the New York Times reports, would be an all-cash offer, which would take Paramount private. The Sony/Apollo deal does not include a buyout of National Amusements. 


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