Edgar Bronfman Jr. reportedly eyes joining bidding war for Shari Redstone’s controlling stake in Paramount

Billionaire Edgar Bronfman Jr., who once ran Warner Music and liquor giant Seagram, reportedly expressed interest Monday in buying the company that controls Paramount Global — adding yet another twist in the chaotic sale of the media giant.

Bronfman, backed by private-equity firm Bain Capital, is eyeing an offer between $2 billion and $2.5 billion for National Amusements, which is owned by Shari Redstone and her family, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The news of Bronfman’s possible bid comes as Redstone is in advanced negotiations to sell her 77% stake in National Amusements to Skydance Media, the production company run by David Ellison, son of Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.  

Should the deal go through, Paramount – owner of its namesake Hollywood studio, CBS, Comedy Central and MTV – would then merge with Skydance, which has produced films for Paramount like “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Edgar Bronfman Jr.
Edgar Bronfman Jr. is looking to offer between $2 billion and $2.5 billion for Shari Redstone’s company, the Wall Street Journal reported. Getty Images

Hollywood producer Steven Paul, CEO of Crystal Sky Pictures, has also reportedly emerged as a potential bidder and is lining up a roughly $3 billion offer for National Amusements.

It is unclear how seriously the media heiress will entertain other offers while negotiations progress with Skydance, and whether those other suitors can arrange necessary financing.

Under the current terms of the Skydance deal, non-Redstone Paramount shareholders would get the chance to cash out at a premium to where the stock is trading. 

Additionally, Skydance and its backers, which include RedBird Capital Partners and Ellison’s father, will put $1.5 billion on Paramount’s balance sheet, which it can use to pay down debt. 

The deal allows for another $4.5 billion to buy out about 50% of nonvoting shares at $15 each and offer non-Redstone voting shares $23 a piece, or roll into the new company, The Journal reported.

Advisers for NAI, Paramount and Skydance were negotiating through the weekend on final hurdles to the deal, “including how to handle potential shareholder lawsuits,” source told the outlet.

If Bronfman and Bain enter the fray, they would have to do due diligence on NAI and Paramount, which could take several weeks before a bid emerges, The Journal reported. 

Paramount Pictures gate
Paramount’s controlling shareholder National Amusements is weighing an offer from Skydance Media. REUTERS

Bain’s investment committee would also have to approve a formal bid, the publication said.

Bronfman is a seasoned exec who has held high-profile roles in the music industry since 1995, when he sought to diversify his family’s Seagram business. That year, Bronfman led Seagram in its acquisition of MCA, whose record division it renamed as Universal Music Group. 

The exec subsequently oversaw Universal’s acquisition of PolyGram to create the world’s largest recorded-music company. 

In 2000, the Bronfman family sold Seagram to French conglomerate Vivendi. Bronfman resigned as executive vice chairman of Vivendi Universal a year later. He returned to the music industry three years later, when he led an investor group that bought Warner Music from Time Warner.

In 2011, Bronfman resigned as CEO of Warner Music, after the record company was bought by Access Industries, the firm controlled by billionaire Len Blavatnik. Five years later, Bronfman made a few attempts to buy Time Inc., then publisher of Time, People and Sports illustrated, but he was rejected. 

He has served as the executive chairman of streaming service Fubo since April of 2020.