Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish to Step Down Amid Company Shake-Up

Paramount Global faces major shifts in leadership and ownership.

by Nouman Rasool
Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish to Step Down Amid Company Shake-Up
© Jason Mendez/Getty Images

Some sources who spoke with CNBC and Variety affirm a dramatic turn of events, claiming Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish is to be ousted from his job within the company. This is happening at a time when Paramount's fate hangs in the balance, with large corporate wrangling and strategic disputes over its future.

At the heart of the turbulence is Paramount's ongoing exclusive 30-day negotiation with David Ellison’s Skydance Media, which, in collaboration with RedBird Capital and KKR, aims to secure a controlling stake in Shari Redstone's National Amusements, the parent entity of Paramount.

The negotiation period, set to conclude in early May, could see Ellison take the reins of the media conglomerate that boasts iconic assets like the Paramount movie studio on Melrose Avenue, CBS network, and popular cable channels including MTV and Comedy Central.

Shareholders Challenge Proposal

Under the proposed arrangement, Ellison’s group would purchase National Amusements for $2 billion, subsequent to which Paramount would integrate Skydance. However, this proposal has met resistance from several shareholders who argue that the deal disproportionately favors Redstone's interests at their expense, offering her a premium while diminishing their share values.

An alternate acquisition offer of $26 billion from Apollo Global Management, which includes taking on Paramount's debts, is preferred by these dissenting shareholders. Further complicating matters, Bakish, who has led Paramount since his appointment in 2016 following the merger of Viacom and CBS, reportedly opposes the Skydance deal.

Insiders suggest that tensions have also been brewing between Bakish and Redstone over several of Bakish’s decisions, notably his reluctance to sell the Showtime network. Additionally, Paramount has encountered significant financial losses attributed to its streaming service, Paramount+, which has failed to meet performance expectations.

The backdrop to this leadership upheaval is a stark financial reality; Paramount Global's stock has plummeted by nearly 50% over the past year, reflecting Wall Street's continued skepticism about the merger's benefits initially touted in 2019.

Amid these challenges, Sony has entered discussions with Apollo to possibly join its bid, potentially positioning the Japanese conglomerate as a major stakeholder in Paramount. As Bakish faces a potential dismissal as early as Monday, the industry watches closely.

His departure marks a critical juncture for Paramount as it navigates through complex negotiations and leadership changes, seeking a path that will stabilize its future in an ever-evolving media landscape.