Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish decided to, in his words, “cross the line” and address a recent bid the company received for Showtime.
In an appearance at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, the exec said the company doesn’t typically comment on M&A. But he acknowledged the unsolicited bid, which was in the range of $3 billion. “We’re always looking at ways to unlock value. We’re stewards of shareholder value. If we see something accretive … we’re going to look at it,” Bakish said.
After execs assessed the potential payday for the premium cable asset, Bakish said they determined that it wasn’t the best strategic option. “The reality is, it wasn’t that interesting to us because if you compare that price … to our internal business plan, the reality is, the internal plan is far more value-creating when you take the base earnings and the synergies and, by the way, how it affects the streaming path to profitability,” he said.
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Several of the company’s assets are up for grabs, however, as Paramount looks to continue streamlining and financing its push into streaming. Publishing house Simon & Schuster, whose sale to Penguin Random House was blocked last year, will still be unloaded, Bakish confirmed. The company has also talked with multiple parties, including Tyler Perry and Byron Allen, about selling them a majority stake in BET.
Asked at the end of the session to recommend a particular piece of content for the audience to watch, Bakish initially demurred, reciting the old saw about not wanting to pick a favorite child. But then, in reviewing several top properties, he lingered on Mission: Impossible. The Tom Cruise action franchise has its seventh and eighth installments in the works. The two-parter will kick off with M:I – Dead Reckoning Part One, which is scheduled for release in July.
The first test screening of the first film was held last week, and “the audience lost their mind,” Bakish said. “The movie is insane. It’s a complete thrill ride, and Tom, you know, he’s very good.” The second Dead Reckoning installment, which is in production, “is insane too,” he continued. “Tom’s walking on the outside of an airplane — in the air, not on a green screen. It’s quite the ride.”
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