Playing Hard To Get Might Yet Pay Off

Ah, Sharileh, you little minx.

Just when you’ve sort of convinced most observers you had actually moved on with your life and had set things up to make a go of it for a while, you turn around yesterday and crank things up again with the suitor you had jilted mere weeks ago.  Per BLOOMBERG’s Michelle F. Davis:

Independent film and TV producer Skydance Media has reached a preliminary agreement to buy Shari Redstone’s National Amusements Inc. and merge with Paramount Global, the parent of CBS and MTV, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

National Amusements, the family company that controls Paramount, will refer the deal to a special committee of Paramount directors for review, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing an agreement that hasn’t been announced.

The agreement followed the collapse of talks last month. The new accord includes a higher valuation for National Amusements and stronger language indemnifying the company against litigation that may result from the deal, the person said.

No fewer than FOUR CNBC yentas–Lillian Rizzo, Alex Sherman, Rohan Goswami and Julia Boorstin–offered a few more juicy details:

The resurrected deal will see Redstone receive a reduced consideration of $1.75 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. The other financial terms of the deal, which CNBC previously reported, will remain unchanged: Skydance will acquire roughly half of Paramount’s controlling shares at $15 per share, for $4.5 billion, and contribute $1.5 billion towards Paramount’s balance sheet.

Sharon WaxmanAnd as the dynamic WRAP duo of and added this time she’s getting her own way on other counts:

(U)nlike the bid that fell through a month ago, this deal will not go before shareholders for approval. The head of the special committee, Charles Phillips, had previously voiced concerns about the deal; he is a former Oracle executive and has history with Ellison’s father Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle. It is not known if he still has concerns.

We know that money talks loudest for Sharileh and her fams; as the CNBC quartet reminded:

Redstone killed the initial bid in June as it was near the finish line. One of Redstone’s reasons was feeling as though Skydance had retraded the deal by asking her to take hundreds of millions of dollars less than the previously agreed to payment, according to one of the people.

But in doing that, she also wrested back control of her own destiny.  As Manfredi and Waxman added:

The deal, which would have an enterprise value of about $2.4 billion, also includes a 45-day go-shop provision that gives other bidders the opportunity to make a better offer. 

And since timing is everything, they also noted this little nugget:

The deal has propitious timing, coming just a week before the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, where media and tech moguls gather every summer and where deals are often hatched or concluded. Insiders speculated that Redstone’s camp may have leaked the Diller negotiation ahead of Sun Valley, which had been underway for weeks, to put pressure on Skydance. 

Redstone and Diller are expected to be in Sun Valley. Ellison will not be in attendance, according to his representative.

So call me a cynic, but I have more than a hunch what was announced today is anything but final.  I’ve seen this behavior in women–and men–before with far less at stake than Sharileh.
Live and learn, Young Mr. Ellison.  Your move.
Until next time..

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