Paramount’s Chief Executive, Bob Bakish, Steps Down

Bob Bakish, the chief executive of Paramount, is stepping down effective immediately, the company announced on Monday, a stunning shake-up in the top ranks of the company as it considers a major merger.

Mr. Bakish, 60, will be replaced by an “office of the C.E.O.” run by three executives: Brian Robbins, head of the Paramount movie studio; George Cheeks, chief executive of Paramount’s CBS division; and Chris McCarthy, chief executive of Showtime and MTV Entertainment Studios.

Looming over Mr. Bakish’s exit are broader questions about the future of Paramount. Like many media companies, Paramount has struggled in recent years to get its streaming business off the ground as audiences for its cable channels have diminished. As a result, Paramount has long been considered an acquisition target by rivals looking to build up their content libraries and increase their leverage in cable negotiations.

In recent months, the company has been in discussions to merge with Skydance, a media company run by the tech scion and Hollywood executive David Ellison. Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder, has already signed off on a potential deal for her stake, but the company’s directors have yet to reach an agreement for the whole company.

Several shareholders have come out publicly against a combination with Skydance, saying it would enrich Ms. Redstone at the expense of other investors. The private equity firm Apollo and Sony have discussed making an all-cash bid for Paramount, an offer that could give the company a serious alternative. But any talks with other suitors must wait until the exclusive negotiation period with Skydance lapses, in early May.

In an effort to assuage those concerns, Skydance in recent days sweetened its proposal to acquire Paramount. The company told Paramount it would provide a $3 billion cash infusion to pay down debt and buy back shares, money that would come from the private-equity firm Redbird Capital and the Ellison family. Skydance also offered to give Paramount shareholders a larger stake in the combined company than it previously contemplated.

Back to top button