Paramount bidder Byron Allen has long history of failed media bids

Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of the Allen Media Group, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, on May 2, 2022.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Byron Allen, the media mogul offering $14 billion for Paramount Global, told CNBC on Wednesday that he has the money to finance a deal, despite skepticism around his deal-making.

“We have more than enough capital available to us. The real challenge is certainty of close,” Allen said.

“This deal lives or dies at the [Federal Communications Commission],” he added.

Allen, the founder and CEO of a media group that owns dozens of television networks across the U.S., offered $30 billion for all of Paramount’s outstanding shares, including debt and equity.

The Allen Media Group said in a statement the offer “is the best solution for all of the Paramount Global shareholders, and the bid should be taken seriously and pursued.”

Allen has a long history of making offers on major media assets. But bidding doesn’t mean buying.

His recent media buyout offers have failed to materialize into sales. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Allen last year offered $18.5 billion for Paramount, and was rejected.

Allen told CNBC he hasn’t received a response from Paramount to his most recent offer.

Shari Redstone, who controls Paramount through her company National Amusements, has been open to deal-making in recent months in an effort to either merge or sell the company that’s home to brands such as CBS, Showtime, Nickelodeon and its namesake movie studio.

CNBC reported last week that David Ellison’s Skydance Media and its backers were exploring a deal to take Paramount Pictures or the entire media company private.

In December, CNBC also reported Paramount had entered preliminary talks with Warner Bros. Discovery to merge the two media giants in a deal that could have faced regulatory hurdles.

Allen’s bid for Paramount is the most ambitious of the deals the media mogul has tried to complete. Here are some of his recent deal attempts:

  • In December, Allen renewed an attempt to buy Paramount-owned Black Entertainment Television and VH1 for a combined $3.5 billion.
  • In November, Bloomberg reported, he was weighing a bid to buy television stations from E.W. Scripps.
  • In September, Allen made an offer to buy ABC and several other networks from Disney for $10 billion after Disney CEO Bob Iger opened the door to selling the company’s linear TV assets.
  • In 2022, he explored a bid to buy the National Football League’s Washington Commanders.
  • In March 2020, he offered $8.5 billion to buy television stations owner Tegna.

Allen told CNBC via phone Wednesday that he lost out on several deals because ownership changed course on wanting to sell. He highlighted his acquisition of The Weather Channel in 2018 for a reported $300 million and broadly defended his track record, invoking baseball Hall of Famer Babe Ruth.

“Let’s talk about Babe Ruth. Does he go down as one of the greatest baseball players of all time? And he struck out half the time,” Allen said. In actuality, Ruth struck out 1,300 times in 8,399 at bats — a 15% strikeout rate.

Allen’s bids for linear TV assets come as the media landscape shifts away from traditional TV toward streaming. Almost all the major media companies have launched services to compete with streaming giant Netflix.

Paramount reported in its third-quarter earnings report that its streaming platform, Paramount+, increased its subscriber count to 63 million. However, Paramount’s direct-to-consumer products have failed to turn a profit like Netflix has. The division reported adjusted losses of $238 million for the third quarter.

Paramount will release its fourth-quarter earnings Feb. 28.

Allen told CNBC he wants to buy Paramount for its linear networks, what he says is the most challenging part of the company.

“These are still great businesses if you know how to manage them properly,” Allen said.

Shares of Paramount were up almost 7% Wednesday and have risen more than 35% in the past three months as talks of a deal have ramped up. However, the stock is more than 40% off its 52-week high of $25.93 a share reached in February 2023.

— CNBC’s Alex Sherman and Julia Boorstin contributed to this report.

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