Paramount Global owner calls off merger talks with Skydance Media

FILE - The main gate to Paramount Studios is seen on Melrose Avenue, July 8, 2015, in Los Angeles. National Amusements, which owns a majority voting stake in the embattled entertainment giant Paramount Global, said Tuesday, June 11, 2024, that it has ended talks on a possible Paramount merger with Skydance Media. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — National Amusements, which owns a majority voting stake in embattled entertainment giant Paramount Global, said Tuesday that it has ended talks on a possible merger of Paramount with movie production company Skydance Media.

The potential deal had drawn attention for weeks amid concerns about Paramount’s future given its heavy debt load and declining television business. One media report in early June even stated that Paramount and Skydance had agreed to terms of a deal, contingent only on signoff from Paramount’s controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone. A statement from National Amusements merely noted that the two sides “have not been able to reach mutually acceptable terms” for the deal.

Skydance, based in Santa Monica, California, has helped produce some major Paramount hits in recent years. Those include several Tom Cruise films including “Top Gun: Maverick” and installments of the “Mission Impossible” series. Its founder and CEO is David Ellison, the son of Oracle founder Larry Ellison.

Robert Fishman, an analyst with MoffettNathanson, said the deal's collapse leaves Paramount with the same problems that have long weighed it down, and few prospects for an infusion of cash or new ideas to help turn things around.

“Ms. Redstone now seems set on either continuing the status quo or divesting herself of just her NAI stake, handing over the reins of her family’s empire to new stewards without delving into any broader or more complicated plan that would involve other media companies or shareholders,” Fishman wrote in a note to investors Tuesday.

Paramount has struggled in an evolving media landscape, particularly as its traditional cable business has declined. To capture today’s growing streaming audience, the company launched Paramount+ in 2021, but losses and debts have still piled up over time.

Shares in New York-based Paramount Global ended Tuesday down almost 8%.