Apollo Global Offers $11 Billion to Buy Paramount Film and TV Studios: Report

Apollo Global Management, a major private-equity firm, has submitted an $11 billion bid to acquire Paramount Pictures and the Paramount TV studios group, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported that Apollo Global offered $11 billion for Paramount Global’s film and TV studio business. That would apparently not include CBS, Paramount Global’s cable networks like BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV, or the streaming business unit that includes Paramount+ and Pluto TV.

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Apollo’s reported offer for Paramount’s studio operations is greater than the market capitalization of Paramount Global in its entirety ($7.3 billion as of March 19). The proposed transaction may include some assumption of Paramount Global’s long-term debt (which stood at $14.6 billion at the end of 2023).

Shares of Paramount Global closed up 11.8% Wednesday on the Journal report, to $12.51/per share, boosting its market cap to nearly $8.7 billion. The stock remains well below its 52-week high of $24/share.

A rep for Paramount Global declined to comment. An Apollo Global spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

In recent months, Paramount Global has been the target of several different M&A scenarios. Skydance Media CEO David Ellison has been in talks with Shari Redstone, whose National Amusements Inc., owns a controlling 77% voting stake in Paramount Global, about buying NAI. The proposal, according to sources, is that a consortium would acquire a controlling stake in National Amusements that they would subsequently use to merge Skydance with Paramount Global in its entirety.

Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group made an unsolicited $30 billion acquisition offer to acquire Paramount Global, though it remains unclear who his financial partners are. Paramount chief Bob Bakish and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav in December briefly discussed the idea of merging WBD and Paramount Global but that idea has been mothballed.

On Paramount Global’s Q4 2023 earnings call last month, Bakish was asked about the reports of deal talks. “In terms of M&A, look, at Paramount, we’re always looking for ways to create shareholder value. And to be clear, that’s for all shareholders,” Bakish said. “But I’m not going to get into commenting on any speculation or timeline, et cetera. But it’s obviously something we are focused on.”

Meanwhile, Paramount Global and Comcast have recently had early talks about potentially uniting Paramount+ and NBCUniversal’s Peacock in some kind of a partnership or joint venture.

Last month, Paramount Global announced it was laying off about 800 employees worldwide, an estimated 3% of its headcount. “These adjustments will help enable us to build on our momentum and execute our strategic vision for the year ahead – and I firmly believe we have much to be excited about,” Bakish wrote in a Feb. 13 memo to staffers. The company said it expects to take a $1 billion charge for the layoffs and content write-offs in the first quarter of 2024; of that, about $800 million would be programming-related.

Paramount Pictures’ library consists of more than 1,000 film titles with rights to an additional 2,500, featuring films by top filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, J.J. Abrams and Michael Bay. Its library includes the Star Trek, Godfather, Transformers, Indiana Jones, Scream and Mission: Impossible franchises, as well as Oscar-winners like “Braveheart,” “Forrest Gump” and “Titanic.” Paramount Television Studios produces programs across all media platforms for distribution worldwide, including “Reacher” and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” (Prime Video); “American Gigolo” (Showtime), “Station Eleven” (Max); and “The Haunting of Hill House” (Netflix).

Apollo Global as of the end of 2023 had $75.9 billion of assets under management with an investment portfolio encompassing more than 190 companies, including ADT, Cox Media Group, Legendary Entertainment and Yahoo Inc.

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