Paramount's board is considering firing its CEO amid sales talks, WSJ says

(Bloomberg) — Paramount Global's board is considering firing CEO Bob Bakish and placing the film and TV company under a committee of top executives while it evaluates a possible sale, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

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The Wall Street Journal reported the deliberations earlier Friday, citing people familiar with the matter. The committee would operate on an interim basis, the newspaper said. No decision has been made yet on Bakish's future and it is possible the board could keep him in place.

The company declined to comment.

Paramount, the parent company of CBS, MTV and other media properties, is controlled by its chairman, Shari Redstone, meaning Bakish's ouster would require her approval. Redstone and company are in talks to sell a majority stake in Paramount to David Ellison's Skydance Media. An exclusive period of talks with him is expected to end on May 3.

Some board members are disappointed with Bakish's decisions, according to people with knowledge of the matter. They included rejecting offers for the company's Showtime and BET cable channels, which could have reduced Paramount's exposure to the traditional TV industry and reduced debt.

Paramount's independent directors are considering a deal that would see Skydance pay more than $2 billion for Redstone's 77% voting interest in the company. Paramount would then merge with Skydance in a deal that gives Ellison and his supporters control of the combined company. Some investors have complained that the deal favors Redstone while diluting the ownership stake of other Paramount shareholders.

During a conference call with investors in February, Bakish said: “We are always looking for ways to create shareholder value. And to be clear: this applies to all shareholders.”

Paramount shares have lost about 19% of their value this year as investors have expressed dismay over the potential terms of a deal with Ellison. On Friday, Matrix Asset Advisors sent a letter to the board urging members not to make a deal with Ellison and to consider other options. It was the second letter the investor wrote to the company this month.

Paramount has other potential suitors. Apollo Global Management Inc. and Sony Group Corp. are considering a joint bid for the company.

—With assistance from Michelle F. Davis.

(Updates board deliberations in fifth paragraph.)

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