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Shari Redstone, Paramount Co-CEOs on Skydance Deal: Read the Memos

After months of talks, Paramount Global and Skydance Media officially announced a deal to merge Sunday night.

Shari Redstone, non-executive chair of Paramount Global and its controlling shareholder through National Amusements Inc., addressed the pact in a memo to employees, as did the trio of co-CEOs currently leading the company: George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS; Chris McCarthy, president and CEO, Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks; and Brian Robbins, president and CEO of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon. (Read the memos below.)

“As a longtime production partner to Paramount, Skydance is well aware of what we have accomplished over the years and it is for that reason that they have pursued a combination with Paramount,” Redstone wrote. “They have a clear strategic vision for the future and the resources to build on Paramount Global’s competitive advantages to drive the Company’s success.”

In her memo, Redstone referred to her late father, Sumner Redstone, who assembled the pieces of what became Viacom and Paramount Global: “Our family has always been committed to continuing my Dad’s legacy and ensuring Paramount’s enduring success. Consistent with that, as the pace of change in the industry has continued to accelerate, it has been our responsibility to work with leadership to make changes in order to maintain our competitive position and fuel growth, thinking of both the near and longer term.”

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2025 — and until then, the co-CEOs told employees in their own memo, “it’s business as usual.”

The current plan under Cheeks, McCarthy and Robbins includes layoffs and other measures aimed at achieving upwards of $500 million in annualized costs; selling assets to pay down debt; and pursuing a joint venture to scale up Paramount+ and accelerate its turn to profitability.

“We have been on a journey to transform Paramount for the future, and thanks to your hard work, Paramount brings tremendous value to this combination with Skydance,” Cheeks, McCarthy and Robbins wrote.

Under the two-step Skydance-Paramount deal, Skydance will acquire Redstone’s National Amusements Inc., which holds a 77% controlling stake in Paramount; subsequently, Skydance will merge with Paramount Global. Once those transactions close, the management team of “New Paramount” will comprise Skydance chief David Ellison as chairman and CEO and ex-NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell as president. The Ellison family and its financial partner, RedBird Capital Partners, said they will invest more than $8 billion in Paramount.

Before the Skydance-Paramount deal closes, Paramount Global may execute other transactions.

Warner Bros. Discovery has expressed interest in exploring potential tie-up between Max and Paramount+. In addition, Paramount Global reportedly has initiated talks to sell BET to an investor group led by BET chief Scott Mills. And the company is expected to seek buyers for the famed Paramount Pictures Studio lot in L.A.

Read the memo from Shari Redstone:

Good evening. Just moments ago, it was announced that we have entered into an agreement under which Skydance Media will acquire National Amusements and merge Skydance’s business with Paramount Global. I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to you directly not only to share the news, but to express my tremendous gratitude to each and every one of you for what we have been able to accomplish together for the past several decades.

As you know, my father built Viacom and CBS by bringing together a group of the best assets in media, news, and entertainment. While people often debated whether content or distribution ruled the day, my father was governed in all of his decisions by his belief that content was indeed king. That has never been more important than it is today, when in a cluttered marketplace, we continue to create content that resonates with our consumers, that they continually seek out, and that keeps them wanting more. Our success is because of you, what you have done individually, and even more importantly, as a team.

Seeing the way you have come together since we launched Paramount Global has been one of the highlights of my years at this company, and your accomplishments are evident across the business. Paramount+ is among the fastest-growing streaming services with an exceptional range of content appealing to all demographics. CBS has been the #1 broadcast network for 16 years and running, with clear strength across genres. Paramount Pictures has produced eight #1 movies in the past two years alone and continues to create hit after hit. Our linear networks have delivered culture-shaping content that excites audiences, including the launch of the “Taylor Sheridan universe” with Yellowstone on the Paramount Network. And, Pluto TV is today the most widely distributed FAST service.

As all this was accomplished, we remained dedicated to educating and informing ourselves and our audiences in our efforts to fight hate and discrimination, and supporting other important causes in the US and around the world. I am so grateful to all of you for what we have been able to accomplish to make a difference.

Our family has always been committed to continuing my Dad’s legacy and ensuring Paramount’s enduring success. Consistent with that, as the pace of change in the industry has continued to accelerate, it has been our responsibility to work with leadership to make changes in order to maintain our competitive position and fuel growth, thinking of both the near and longer term. Most recently, this led to the appointment of George Cheeks, Chris McCarthy, and Brian Robbins as Co-CEOs, to take the meaningful actions necessary to bolster the Company both operationally and financially. I think we can all agree on their enormous contributions to this company. At the same time, as you know, our Board has focused on ensuring we are pursuing all opportunities to best position the Company for the future and maximize value creation for all shareholders.

As a longtime production partner to Paramount, Skydance is well aware of what we have accomplished over the years and it is for that reason that they have pursued a combination with Paramount. They have a clear strategic vision for the future and the resources to build on Paramount Global’s competitive advantages to drive the Company’s success.

The agreement we entered into today is subject to closing conditions, and we expect the deal to be completed in the first half of 2025. Until then, George, Chris, and Brian will continue to lead the Company, and they will be sharing more with you shortly. I of course will also be here to cheer you on, and assist in any way that I can. It has truly been my honor to work with all of you these past several years, and to see so many of our dreams come to fruition.

I want to express my deepest thanks to you for your commitment, hard work, and most importantly your support of my family and me. Against a challenging industry backdrop and many changes at the company, you have protected Paramount’s assets and delivered for our audiences. As I have said before, and I will always say, we have the best people in the business here at Paramount and it is truly a privilege to work with you. I will always treasure the relationships I have had with you and the ways we have worked together to distinguish ourselves in our industry.

All the best, Shari

Read the memo from the current Paramount Global co-CEOs:

Hi Everyone,

Today marks an important milestone for Paramount, as we just announced a definitive agreement with Skydance Media. By combining Skydance with Paramount, we would build on our storied legacy to create an even stronger, next-generation media and technology leader, positioned to win in today’s rapidly transforming media landscape. 

As Shari shared, we expect this transaction to close in the first half of 2025, since it’s subject to regulatory approvals and other steps necessary to complete the deal. The agreement also includes what’s called a “go-shop” provision, which means that the Special Committee of Paramount’s Board of Directors and its representatives will be permitted to actively solicit and evaluate alternative acquisition proposals for a 45-day period.

Until the transaction closes, it’s business as usual — we will continue to operate as an independent company and move forward with the strategic plan we outlined at our town hall. This includes actions to modernize our organization by streamlining teams, eliminating duplicative functions and reducing the size of our workforce. We will also continue to explore opportunities to transform global streaming and optimize our asset mix by divesting some of our assets.

We have been on a journey to transform Paramount for the future, and thanks to your hard work, Paramount brings tremendous value to this combination with Skydance. Paramount continues to be the home of invaluable IP that powers the best that entertainment has to offer to audiences around the world, and a vibrant creative culture. And, our assets are among the most compelling in the industry, including the number one US broadcast network with CBS and our leading free-to-air networks in the UK, Australia, Argentina, and Chile; iconic brands like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, and Showtime; a top five SVOD service in the US with Paramount+; and a leading global free ad-supported streaming service in Pluto TV. And of course, Paramount Pictures continues to create genre-spanning films that deliver at the box office, most recently with A Quiet Place: Day One – the latest addition to our 100-year-old film library.

This transaction would combine Skydance’s financial resources, deep operating experience, and cutting-edge technology with Paramount’s iconic IP, deep film and television library, proven hit-making capabilities, and linear and streaming platforms that reach millions of viewers. And, we already know Paramount and Skydance, led by David Ellison, can achieve incredible results together, as evidenced by our strong, 15-year collaboration that has delivered highly successful films and franchises like Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

The Paramount that we know today would not be possible without the leadership of Shari and the Redstone family. It is because of their vision and support over the many years that we are one of the leading global entertainment companies in the world, with the best team in the business. We would like to sincerely thank Shari and her entire family for their unwavering support and leadership. We would also like to thank our Board of Directors, who have helped guide us along the way. We appreciate all that they do on behalf of Paramount.

And most importantly, we want to thank all of you, our Paramount Global team, for all you have done and continue to do to drive Paramount to new heights.

We know you will have questions and we’ll share as much information as we can throughout this process. In the meantime, you can read more about the agreement in the press release here.

Thank you,

George, Chris and Brian

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