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Barry Diller’s IAC Exploring Bid for NAI to Gain Control of Paramount

Barry Diller may be looking to charge back into Hollywood — or, at least, he wants to be seen as a wheeler-dealer who’s in the hunt for struggling media company Paramount Global.

IAC, the internet media and publishing conglomerate led by Diller, is “exploring” a bid to acquire Shari Redstone’s National Amusements Inc., the company that owns a controlling stake in Paramount Global, the New York Times reported Monday, citing anonymous sources. IAC has signed nondisclosure agreements with National Amusements Inc. to perform due diligence on a deal, per the Times report.

Diller once ran Paramount Pictures — and tried to buy the studio in the 1990s before he was outbid by Sumner Redstone (the late father of Shari Redstone). In March 1994, Viacom acquired control of Paramount in a deal worth about $10 billion.

It seems highly unlikely that Shari Redstone would agree to a deal with Diller that would hand over the keys to her family’s media assets to him.

An IAC spokeswoman declined to comment. A rep for National Amusements Inc. did not respond to a request for comment.

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Diller’s reported interest in NAI comes after Shari Redstone last month scrapped merger talks with David Ellison’s Skydance Media on a deal that would have merged Paramount and Skydance. After months of protracted negotiations involving NAI, Paramount and Skydance, Redstone ultimately backed out because she felt that what Skydance brought to the table was not enough to justify the potential risks to the deal, including likely shareholder lawsuits. At this point, Paramount Global is proceeding under a new strategic plan devised by its three co-CEOs to slash costs, explore the sale of certain assets and accelerate the profitability of Paramount+ via a possible joint venture with another player.

As the Skydance talks fell apart, other bidders emerged to scope out a potential acquisition of National Amusements Inc. alone (instead of trying to construct a deal that also comprises Paramount Global). Those include Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Bain Capital and filmmaker Steven Paul, who was behind the “Baby Geniuses” movie franchise.

In 1974, when Diller took over the reins of Paramount at 32, he was the youngest studio chief in Hollywood history. At Paramount, he oversaw such box office hits as “Saturday Night Fever,” “Grease,” “Terms of Endearment” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” as well as top-rated TV shows including “Cheers,” “Taxi,” “Laverne & Shirley” and “Cheers.”

New York-based IAC’s businesses currently include Angi Inc., Dotdash Meredith and Care.com.

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