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    What does sale of Paramount and departure of Bob Bakish mean for 10 Network?

    Speculation about the future of Network 10 global parent Paramount has bubbled away for some time.

    It got very real earlier this month with members of Paramount Global’s board agreeing to enter into exclusive merger talks with US studio Skydance Media, reported Reuters.

    Reports indicated Skydance was the favoured bid over a US$26 billion offer from private equity firm Apollo Global Management in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment.

    The agreement reportedly granted Skydance 30 days of exclusive talks with Paramount. A period which expires on May 3. Skydance has been reported as requesting it be granted an extension on that period.

    CNBC reported this week:

    Paramount Global’s special committee, in charge of accepting or rejecting transactions, and David Ellison’s Skydance Media, backed by private equity firms KKR and RedBird Capital Partners, are narrowing in on how to value Skydance’s assets as part of a merger, as well as how much equity to add to the company as part of a recapitalization.

    What does sale of Paramount and departure of Bob Bakish mean for 10 Network?

    An extract from the weekend Wall Street Journal

    Things started to move quickly at the end of last week with The Wall Street Journal reporting on the imminent departure of Paramount CEO Bob Bakish (top image). The move was mentioned on Friday, and then covered in more detail across the weekend.

    Variety summed it up more bluntly in its weekend headline: “Bob Bakish Out as Paramount Global CEO”.

    CNBC and Variety noted the “M&A drama” will continue on Monday April 29:

    [Paramount] is set to report its first-quarter earnings on Monday. Bakish will not take part in the traditional conference call with analysts that accompanies quarterly earnings disclosures.

    Variety reports on Paramount chief’s departure

    What happens to Network 10?

    There has been no detail about what the future might be for Paramount’s FTA business Network 10. Some think whoever the new Paramount owner turns out to be, they will be mainly interested in the studio business, the US CBS network and the US cable channels.

    Other assets might be sold off. Those could include the Paramount+ streaming business and the free streaming business Pluto TV in the US.

    International assets to be sold off could include Australia’s Network 10 and UK’s Channel 5.

    Network 10

    Who could buy Network 10?

    Although there are only three FTA commercial TV licences across Australia, finding a buyer for Network 10 could be a challenge.

    The most likely buyer would perhaps be a private equity player who could be interested in a “bargain buy”. Just how big a bargain would decide the number of potential bidders.

    One of those could be Anchorage Capital.

    Anchorage is currently in negotiations to acquire the regional TV licences owned by SCA. Those licences currently have an affiliation deal with Network 10.

    If Anchorage had both the metro and regional 10 licences it would be a more attractive asset when it came time for Anchorage to exit the TV business.

    If Sony Pictures Entertainment and Apollo were the successful bidders for Paramount, having someone like David Gyngell advising on any Network 10 deal would make sense. Or perhaps Grant Blackley.

    Gyngell ran Nine when Apollo was for a time its biggest shareholder. During that time Gyngell oversaw a turnaround at Nine which included an ASX listing for Nine Entertainment and a number of asset sales.

    Blackley is a former CEO of both Network 10 and later SCA. He’s well-schooled on the potential of running a network with a national reach.

    Another former TV executive of course is James Warburton who only last week departed Seven West Media. There has been speculation he could be headed to private equity.

    See also: Paramount CEO Bob Bakish addresses merger talk, updates Australian strategy

    The post What does sale of Paramount and departure of Bob Bakish mean for 10 Network? appeared first on Mediaweek.

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