The CEO of Paramount Global urged staffers at the entertainment conglomerate to focus on their 2024 business goals, even as a handful of industry heavy hitters and investment firms explore a potential acquisition of the company and speculation about looming layoffs intensifies.
In a memo issued to employees Thursday and reviewed by Variety, Bob Bakish acknowledged that Paramount’s future “remains a topic of speculation,” a nod to the fact that a group of investors led by Skydance founder David Ellison have engaged in talks with Paramount’s controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone. Those talks have contemplated a buyout of Redstone’s investment vehicle, National Amusements Inc., that could then be used to merge Paramount with Skydance, according to people familiar with the matter.
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Paramount has also been approached informally by Warner Bros. Discovery, according to people familiar with those talks, though it is not clear that WBD has emerged as a serious suitor.
Paramount is “a storied public company in a closely followed industry,’ said Bakish. “But I have always believed the best thing we can do is concentrate on what we can control — execution. Leaning into what’s working, while continually adjusting to current realities.”
Bakish outlined a plan for Paramount that calls for a focus on creating content that can have big impact around the globe, while cutting back on “local, international originals for our platforms, apart from our leading free-to-air networks in Australia, Argentina, Chile and the U.K.” He pushed for the company to “maximize our global hits across multiple platforms and revenue streams –including streaming, film, TV and licensing — for the biggest return on our investment.”
He also suggested that the company would continue to press for reining in costs at its streaming operations, which media investors are pressuring to show a profit. Paramount will, said Bakish, in 2024 “lean even further into large markets like the US, U.K., Canada and Australia, where we have a strong multiplatform presence, our U.S. studio content resonates best, and where there is the greatest revenue potential.”
And he said Paramount would press for more collaboration “across teams, time zones and functions
on efforts like cross-promotion, innovative partnerships, data and insights and more, to make the most out of our assets and expertise.”
Bakish did not speak directly about the potential for acquisition, or outline what the company might do if a compelling offer were to be made to its board. Still, it’s clear Paramount has considered such an option. In November, the company acknowledged in an SEC filing that it had adopted a plan to offer severance benefits to senior executives in case they are terminated within two years of a change of control of the overall company.
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