Edgar Bronfman Jr joins billionaires circling Paramount owner

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Edgar Bronfman Jr joins billionaires circling Paramount owner

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Edgar Bronfman Jr has become the latest billionaire to join the pursuit of Paramount, signalling his interest in a possible $2bn-plus bid for National Amusements, the holding company through which Shari Redstone controls the film and TV group.

The latest twist in a chaotic saga over Paramount’s future was confirmed by two people familiar with Bronfman’s interest, who said he had backing from private equity group Bain.

A successful bid would mark a return to the centre of the media industry for Bronfman, a former chair of Warner Music and the heir to the Seagram spirits business that controlled Universal Studios and PolyGram before an ill-fated sale to France’s Vivendi in 2000.

But Redstone has been in talks with David Ellison’s Skydance Media about a complex deal that would instead hand Paramount to the billionaire son of Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.

After talks that have stretched for six months, Skydance recently submitted a new offer that Paramount’s “special committee” of advisers and board members endorsed. It appeared to be a breakthrough in the talks.

Redstone, who controls about 80 per cent of Paramount through voting stock, received that offer more than a week ago and has been reviewing it, said a person familiar with the matter.

However, she has been wavering in recent days and evaluating alternatives such as selling only National Amusements, or not doing any deal — leaving a trio of internal executives to lead Paramount through an ambitious turnaround strategy.

Bronfman, with Bain’s backing, is looking to offer between $2bn and $2.5bn for National Amusements, said the people familiar with the deal, who added the suitors would still need weeks to conduct due diligence for a transaction. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on Bronfman’s interest.

As Redstone deliberates, Paramount’s staff of more than 20,000 have been left awaiting their fate.

Paramount is one of the most storied companies in Hollywood, with hits such as Titanic and The Godfather. But the company has been hit hard by the shift to streaming. Wall Street is sceptical that Paramount can forge a future as a standalone group in an ultra competitive streaming battle with larger groups including Netflix, Disney and Amazon.

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