Warner Bros. Discovery in talks to merge with Paramount Global

  • IANS
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Warner Bros. Discovery in talks to merge with Paramount Global

New York, Dec 21 (IANS) Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav met with Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish in New York City to discuss a possible merger, the media reported.The combination would create a news and entertainment behemoth that would likely trigger further industry consolidation.

Zaslav also has spoken to Shari Redstone, who owns Paramount's parent company, about a deal, Axios reported.

WBD's market value was around $29 billion as of Wednesday, while Paramount's was just over $10 billion, so any merger would not be of equals.

The meeting between Zaslav and Bakish, which sources say lasted several hours, took place at Paramount's headquarters in Times Square (NYSE: SQ ).

The duo discussed ways their companies could complement one another. For example, each company's main streaming service - Paramount+ and Max - could merge to better rival Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) and Disney+, Axios reported.

It's unclear whether WBD would buy Paramount Global or its parent company, National Amusements Inc. (NAI), but a source familiar with the situation says that both options are on the table.

WBD is said to have hired bankers to explore the deal, Axios reported.

The deal could drive substantial synergies. WBD could use its international distribution footprint to boost Paramount's franchises, while Paramount's children's programming assets could be essential to WBD's long-term streaming ambitions.

CBS News could be combined with CNN to create a global news powerhouse. CBS' crime dramas, such as "NCIS" and "Criminal Minds," could be combined with Investigation Discovery and TruTV, Axios reported.

CBS Sports' footprint could be combined with WBD's. For example, CBS and WBD's Turner Sports currently share TV rights for March Madness.

Paramount is under enormous pressure to find a strategic partner or buyer, as it's staring down a mountain of debt.

The firm's stock jumped 12 per cent earlier this month following a report from Puck that Skydance Media and RedBird Capital Partners were eyeing a potential deal to buy a majority stake in NAI, Axios reported.

NAI reached a deal with creditors to restructure some of its debt in September and previously slimmed down by selling Simon & Schuster.

--IANS

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