February 28, 2024

EXCLUSIVE: We are hearing that Apollo Global Management, who was mulling an offer for National Amusements, the Redstone family company that controls Paramount Global, is no longer considering that now.

Reps for Apollo Global Management, Paramount Global and National Amusements declined to comment.

While the situation is still fluid and it may be early to count Apollo out of the process entirely, sources tell us that the Marc Rowan-Josh Harris-Leon Black co-founded private equity company is skittish in the wake of the FCC blowing up hedge fund Standard General’s attempted $8.6 billion bid for the Tegna station group — a deal that Apollo Global Management was set to provide funding toward. The deal was inked in 2022 and fell apart in May of 2023.

Apollo is also an investor in Dune movie studio Legendary Entertainment.

“Capital is not the issue, approval is the commodity; very few people can get FCC approval,” a person with knowledge of the Paramount Global pursuit told Deadline. Meaning regulatory concerns, not access to capital, are the key consideration on who takes over Paramount Global or National Amusements.

“The FCC doesn’t want hedge fund operators going near local TV stations after what they did to newspapers,” the person added.

Bloomberg reported on Jan. 20 that Apollo reached out to BDT & MSD Partners, the investment bank advising the Redstones.

Still in the mix are David Ellison, who is looking to merge his Skydance Media with Paramount. He has eyes primarily for the film studio, and has deep-pocketed backers like his father, billionaire Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison. RedBird Capital, an investor in Skydance, is also still in play for National Amusements.

Byron Allen went public last several weeks ago with a $30 billion offer (including equity and outstanding debt) for Paramount Global. He’s interested in keeping the broadcast assets, linear networks, and, potentially, Paramount+, with the Paramount film studio and real estate unloaded.

Skydance investor RedBird Capital is still in play for National Amusements.

The Redstone family, led by Shari Redstone, controls 77% of the voting stock in Paramount, the parent of CBS, MTV and other film and TV properties. CBS just aired, and Paramount+ streamed, Super Bowl LVIII which saw the Kansas City Chiefs topple the San Francisco 49ers.

Following Allen’s bid at the end of January, Deadline heard that a special board committee was formed to evaluate any potential bids for Paramount Global and to provide an extra layer of scrutinity. Shari Redstone, non-executive chair of the company and head of its controlling shareholder National Amusements, is not a member of such special committee.

Paramount has a dual-class ownership structure. The Redstone family trust, National Amusements, controls nearly 80% of the Class A voting stock, mean any interested buyer who didn’t want Shari looking over their shoulder would need to acquire the NAI stake as well as publicly-traded Paramount.

Just acquiring NAI’s controlling interest would irk off 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 in fact is two-tiered — he’s proposing $28.58 each for the voting shares of Paramount, and $21.53 for the non-voting shares.

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