Paramount investor Mario Gabelli ‘may not sell shares’ in proposed Skydance merger


Billionaire Mario Gabelli, a major voting shareholder in the holding company that controls Paramount, said he may remain an investor if the media giant merges with Skydance — despite his previous skepticism about such a tie-up.

Earlier this week, heiress Shari Redstone surprised media insiders with her announcement that she was accepting a merger proposal from Skydance — the Hollywood studio with which Paramount has partnered to produce the Mission: Impossible franchise — despite turning down a deal just a few weeks ago.

“Shari did it right,” Gabelli told The Post in an exclusive interview Friday. “She backed off and got something more attractive.”

Billionaire investor Mario Gabelli is a major voting shareholder in the holding company that controls Paramount. Getty Images

In particular, Gabelli said it appears Skydance’s new deal is better for minority shareholders, including Gabelli, a previous sticking point.

Under the new deal, National Amusements — the holding company that controls Paramount’s voting stock, in which Redstone owns a 77% stake and Gabelli owns a majority of the rest — does not require the Paramount merger to be approved by a non-Redstone majority. . shareholders.

While the astute media investor has remained largely silent over the past several months of negotiations, insiders believed Gabelli’s threat of a lawsuit over the Skydance deal was a major obstacle to its completion.

“I can’t sell shares if there’s a deal with Skydance. I need to see the structure of the transaction,” Gabelli said, adding that he currently has no thoughts on the merger. “Until I understand the details of this deal, we’re on hold.”

At first glance, however, Gabelli said the numbers looked favorable.

“If Skydance is paying $1.75 billion to NAI and NAI has $500 million in debt, then $1.25 billion is left for NAI shareholders,” Gabelli said. “That’s $20 a share.”

Gabelli praised National Amusements president Shari Redstone for her handling of the proposed merger with Skydance Media. Reuters

Shares of Paramount recently changed hands on Friday at $11.52, up 0.5%.

Gabelli added that he won’t be going to the “billionaire summer camp” in Sun Valley next week, but said it will be interesting to see who Shari meets there.

He will be especially curious to see if Redstone has been caught meeting with the Warner Bros. CEO. Discovery’s David Zaslav, who has again signaled interest in a Paramount deal.

“Zaslav wants to do something one-on-one with Shari because Netflix has such a big advantage for both of them,” Gabelli said.

He also noted, however, that there are still some questions about whether Skydance can get a deal through the Federal Communications Commission.

Skydance has partnered with Paramount to produce the Mission: Impossible franchise. Reuters

“Under current law, a 25% ownership change requires FCC approval.”

Century-old Paramount Pictures is known for films such as Titanic, The Godfather and the Transformers franchise.

Skydance CEO David Ellison, the son of Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, has spent months pursuing Paramount, a combination that Redstone, the daughter of the late media mogul Sumner Redstone, enthusiastically embraced, according to reports.

However, it canceled the original deal after Skydance adjusted its offer to provide more money for other shareholders.

National Amusements owns theaters in the United States, Britain and Latin America and holds 77% of the Redstone family’s Paramount Class A voting stock.

Ariel Zilber contributed reporting

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