Viacom Inc. (VIAB) - NASDAQ
  • Fri, Jul. 15, 11:41 AM
    • Unsurprisingly, National Amusements -- Sumner Redstone's holding company, which owns 80% control of Viacom (VIA -2%, VIAB -1.8%) -- is reaffirming its opposition to any deal to sell a stake in Paramount Pictures.
    • That comes after fresh news that Viacom has held talks with China's Dalian Wanda Group over selling 49% of the studio. This spring, amid a battle for control of Viacom, Redstone reportedly expressed opposition and displeasure with the reports that Viacom would consider a sale of his "baby."
    • Selling a Paramount stake is bad for shareholders and even limits other strategic options, National Amusements says in a statement: “Any short-term benefits that might result from a Paramount transaction would be outweighed by the severe negative impact on Viacom’s future strategic flexibility to best capitalize on this important asset.”
    • That means NA could go for a deal in the future, as it said the studio's fate shouldn't be decided by people “who may be leaving the board shortly" -- directors ousted by NA but allowed to stay on while multiple court cases go forward.
    • Updated: Viacom responds. "It is beyond understanding that 'National Amusements' would continue in its attempts to interfere with a potential transaction that would create a unique opportunity to drive long-term value for both Paramount and Viacom, without even waiting for the facts. We will continue to pursue the best outcome for all of Viacom’s shareholders."
    | Fri, Jul. 15, 11:41 AM | 2 Comments
  • Wed, Jul. 13, 4:57 PM
    • Dalian Wanda Group, an unsurprising suitor when it comes to U.S. movie assets, has held talks with Viacom (VIA -1.2%, VIAB -1.4%) about obtaining a minority stake in Paramount Pictures, Reuters reports.
    • That's if the stake still ends up for sale. In February, CEO/Chairman Philippe Dauman confirmed that he decided to pursue talks with investors over selling the piece of the venerable studio, but that was before a burgeoning feud with chief voteholder Sumner Redstone revealed reports that Redstone didn't want Viacom to let go of any of Paramount.
    • Redstone's National Amusements amended Viacom's bylaws to require unanimous approval for such a sale.
    • Chinese conglomerate Wanda, meanwhile, bought Legendary Entertainment in January, already owns cinema chain AMC, and has notably had eyes on expanding its movie business in the U.S.
    | Wed, Jul. 13, 4:57 PM | 5 Comments
  • Thu, Jul. 7, 12:09 PM
    • In a Sun Valley media conference tradition, cable mogul John Malone weighed in on one of his most frequent questions: evaluating the current environment for mergers and acquisitions.
    • "There's always M&A opportunities," he said. "I have nine different public companies I'm involved in, and they're always looking for opportunities."
    • As for cheaper European assets post-Brexit: "Cheap is a relative term; I think it depends on your longer-term view. I think Britain's gonna be fine; I think the EU is gonna be fine. I think there are gonna be some banking, capitalization issues that have to be dealt with."
    • He's coming off a $4.4B deal to combine his Starz network (STRZA +1.8%) with Lions Gate (LGF +3.1%), and "they're both subscale ... this gives them the opportunity to be bigger, be a little more aggressive in investing in content, trying new things."
    • Malone's more interested in the TV business, but Lions Gate will get a new outlet for its films after tough times at the box office: "Theatrical is a tough business and you can run hot and cold ... The question is can you tame the movie business to reduce the volatility?”
    • Asked about Viacom (VIA +3.1%, VIAB +3%) -- currently embroiled in a succession drama and (logically) speculation about combining it with other firms: “I’m hoping that all settles down and everybody is treated fairly,” said Malone. “Sumner [Redstone's] been a long-term friend and sometimes partner and sometimes 'frenemy.' You hate to see the stress of a family situation. I certainly hope it all works out to everybody’s benefit."
    • On Viacom's sale of a Paramount stake: "Would I? The theatrical side? No, that would not be where I would go." But Viacom has "got some great assets and right now because of the turmoil they're substantially undervalued."
    | Thu, Jul. 7, 12:09 PM | 11 Comments
  • Mon, Jun. 20, 12:30 PM
  • Wed, Jun. 15, 8:37 AM
    • Shari Redstone, has been in direct contact with Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) founder Jack Ma in connection to a sale of Paramount Pictures, sources told the NY Post.
    • Meanwhile, National Amusements - Viacom's (VIA, VIAB) controlling shareholder - has started talks with investment banks about the Paramount sales process to gather more information about a potential deal.
    • Viacom had hoped to use the proceeds from the expected $7B sale of 49% of the studio to pay down debt and perhaps boost its share price by $10.
    • Sources also said the Redstones have reached out through back channels to DreamWorks (NASDAQ:DWA) CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg to see if he has an interest in running Viacom.
    | Wed, Jun. 15, 8:37 AM | 12 Comments
  • Mon, Apr. 25, 6:13 PM
    • China's DMG Entertainment is getting out in front of a bidding deadline for a minority stake in Paramount Pictures (VIA -1%, VIAB -1.2%), hiring J.P. Morgan to engage on its due diligence, Variety reports.
    • The disconnect between Viacom (which wants to sell a smaller piece) and bidders who want the studio outright is also discouraging some suitors; Skydance and Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX +0.6%, FOXA +0.4%) are not expected to bid actively, Brent Lang notes.
    • Chinese firms continue to be prominent among likely partners for Paramount, as they'd give it more of a foothold in the world's fastest growing cinema market. DMG is worth about $5B and recently partnered with Hasbro to create a live show based around the toymaker's Transformers robots.
    • Now read Viacom: Opportunity Hidden In A Soap Opera »
    | Mon, Apr. 25, 6:13 PM | 1 Comment
  • Wed, Mar. 30, 12:24 PM
    • Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX +0.1%, FOXA +0.3%) is one of the companies interested in taking the minority stake in Paramount Pictures that Viacom (VIA +0.1%, VIAB +0.2%) has put on the block, The New York Post has reported.
    • That would put Fox into competition with several Asian firms interested in a piece of the historic studio, which has been under pressure (along with its parent Viacom) with a focus on an underperforming film slate.
    • And Viacom has given Fox a cold shoulder so far, sources said, which suggests it may be looking for a more passive partner. With a 5.9% share of the film business, Paramount could help provide a boost for Fox, which has about an 11.3% market share in films.
    • Fox, meanwhile, may be of a mind with other U.S. suitors like DreamWorks Animation that would prefer buying the whole studio to taking a minority stake.
    • Previously: Viacom draws interest for minority stake in Paramount (Mar. 18 2016)
    • Previously: Liberty Media an unlikely bidder for Paramount stake (Mar. 07 2016)
    • Previously: Katzenberg 'fantasizes' about DreamWorks Animation-Paramount merger (Mar. 01 2016)
    | Wed, Mar. 30, 12:24 PM
  • Tue, Mar. 8, 3:41 PM
    • Anonymous Content -- the producers of the last two Best Picture Oscar winners, Spotlight and Birdman -- is shopping itself for a sale or major investment and drawing some reported interest from a number of media firms.
    • The Wall Street Journal points to several names that might invest at a valuation of $200M for the company: Viacom (VIA, VIAB), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY) and Endemol Shine (FOX, FOXA, APO).
    • Anonymous Content is seeking a buyer with nice market timing for content -- which is drawing increasingly higher prices from a growing pile of stakeholders -- but at a price that amounts to nearly 40 times its annual cash flow of $5M.
    • Along with its Oscar chops, the firm's also behind The Revenant (which won an Oscar for star Leonardo DiCaprio) and regarded television series Mr. Robot and True Detective. And it manages hundreds of creatives in the film/TV field.
    | Tue, Mar. 8, 3:41 PM | 1 Comment
  • Mon, Mar. 7, 6:11 PM
    • Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) may not be among the bidders lining up to take a substantial interest in Paramount Pictures (VIA, VIAB), if CEO Greg Maffei is taken at his word.
    • Answering a question at a Deutsche Bank conference about whether Liberty would have hypothetical interest in a stake at Sony Pictures, Maffei said "It’s tough to buy a minority interest in a private company."
    • “We’re not really in the content play today. We’re not really in that game," he added. "I think being a minority partner would be tough for any one of (the major studios)."
    • Maffei said he was speaking on behalf of Liberty, but couldn't speak to the content appetites of John Malone's other businesses, including Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) or Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF).
    • Viacom said this month that it was pursuing discussions with select potential investors for a minority stake in the venerable Hollywood studio.
    • Today, Macquarie raised its price target on LMCA shares to $45, implying 18% upside from today's close of $38.01. The firm has an Outperform rating on the stock.
    • Previously: Katzenberg 'fantasizes' about DreamWorks Animation-Paramount merger (Mar. 01 2016)
    • Previously: Paramount's likely suitors: Foreign firms, domestic tech (Feb. 24 2016)
    | Mon, Mar. 7, 6:11 PM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Mar. 1, 2:22 PM
    • With troubled Viacom (VIA +1%, VIAB +1.1%) looking for a minority partner for its Paramount Pictures film business, Jeffrey Katzenberg -- chief of DreamWorks Animation (DWA +0.9%) -- says he "fantasizes" about a merger with Paramount.
    • While he knows that Paramount isn't looking for a full marriage, he told the Morgan Stanley investor conference attendees that television has become his studio's most important segment. DWA has 19 animated shows in production and live action on the way, with a library of "extremely high margin, very, very valuable TV."
    • "It's our most profitable asset ... I think today is the first time I said it, actually," Katzenberg said.
    • Viacom's TV business has struggled with poor ratings over the past year, a time in which shares have fallen 47%.
    • Katzenberg also said the company was taking advantage of a valuable brand by getting into location-based entertainment: experiences on cruise ships and hotels, and a planned set of mini-theme parks.
    • Previously: SpringOwl's Jackson: Viacom should spin Paramount to tracking stock (Feb. 26 2016)
    • Previously: Paramount's likely suitors: Foreign firms, domestic tech (Feb. 24 2016)
    | Tue, Mar. 1, 2:22 PM | 2 Comments
  • Wed, Feb. 24, 3:56 PM
    • With Viacom (VIA +1%, VIAB +0.3%) looking to sell a strategic stake in Paramount Pictures, who could be interested in buying?
    • Foreign investors are likely, amid a wave of investment in Hollywood from overseas. China's Perfect World is putting $250M into a development slate at Universal, while in-country counterpart Bona Film Group said in November it was putting $235M into a slate at Fox.
    • Analysts suggest the studio is worth about $5.5B today, notes The Hollywood Reporter, so a minority stake could still come to $2B. Viacom paid $9.8B for the studio a dozen years back.
    • Major conglomerates like Alibaba (BABA +0.6%), Dalian Wanda and Fosun (OTCPK:FOSUF) have an appetite for Hollywood deals -- and Wanda already owns cinema chain AMC and producer Legendary Entertainment, while exploring a stake in Lions Gate. A key interest with those firms is ability to get Paramount products into China, where Transformers is a major phenomenon. Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY +0.2%) has similar international media appetites.
    • Fosun is trying to buy Bona and take it private, which would give it Bona's entry into Fox's slate.
    • Back home, Lions Gate (LGF +8.8%) is now a frequent source of tie-up rumors -- and is on the move today amid Amazon.com (AMZN +0.1%) content-deal chatter. Both Lions Gate and Amazon could use a piece of Paramount for different reasons.
    • Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL +1.5%) has been floated as a possible bidder for Time Warner, as it may be shopping for content to feed TV dreams -- but a stake in Paramount would come far cheaper than trying to swallow Time Warner whole for $50B-$80B.
    • Previously: Viacom, up 5%, confirms Paramount investment feelers (Feb. 23 2016)
    | Wed, Feb. 24, 3:56 PM | 5 Comments
  • Jul. 31, 2015, 1:50 PM
    • Sky Italia (OTCQX:SKYAY +1.6%) has agreed to buy MTV Italia from Viacom (VIA +0.7%, VIAB +1%)
    • No financial details were disclosed. The deal, for a free-to-air MTV channel, could press market leader Mediaset as Sky begins to integrate existing MTV content with Sky Italia programming.
    • Recently, Mediaset made a deal with Vodafone to offer its pay-TV content to Vodafone Italy customers, a response to competitor Telecom Italia offering its customers Sky Italia content.
    | Jul. 31, 2015, 1:50 PM
  • Jul. 31, 2015, 9:15 AM
    • Viacom (VIA, VIAB) has acquired a 50% interest in Prism TV Private Limited -- a regional network operator in India -- for 9.4B rupees (about $153M).
    • Prism TV owns and operates a number of entertainment channels, including ETV Marathi, ETV Kannada, ETV Bangla, ETV Oriya and ETV Gujarati. The company has been rebranding the channels under the "Colors" mark.
    • Viacom is executing the deal through its Nickelodeon Asia Holdings unit. The remaining half of Prism TV will be held by Network18, Viacom's partner in its Viacom18 joint venture that operates 10 channels in India, including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Colors.
    • "This acquisition is an important step in building on our leadership position in India, a key market in Viacom’s international growth strategy," says Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.
    | Jul. 31, 2015, 9:15 AM
  • May 27, 2015, 2:03 PM
    • "I would like to buy CBS. I'm not going to," says CEO Les Moonves of the now-frequent speculation that he'd like to take over the controlling stake that Sumner Redstone's firm has in the broadcaster.
    • “The board of directors will decide the fate of this company,” he said while speaking at Code Conference, echoing what Redstone has said himself.
    • Moonves has reportedly talked with financiers about trying to assemble $2B to buy control of the stake. He added that while TV/Internet distributors are consolidating, he doesn't see the need for content companies to do the same.
    • "We don't want to be reunited with them, not them with us," he said of Viacom (VIA, VIAB) -- run by Philippe Dauman, whose style Moonves reportedly clashes with.
    • When it comes to CBS working with a revamped Apple TV, Moonves pointed to the key: "money." He's met with Apple's Eddy Cue about joining a small bundle of channels for iOS devices.
    • Moonves has previously noted "You can't live without us" in skinny bundles, and today pointed again to must-have attributes: Apple's looking at "a more select group at a lower price. Any one of those groups will need CBS. We have the NFL, which is must-have television."
    | May 27, 2015, 2:03 PM | 1 Comment
  • May 22, 2015, 6:44 PM
    • CBS zipped through its annual meeting in about a half hour and, as expected, Chairman Sumner Redstone skipped it, as he did Viacom's meeting in March and recent earnings calls.
    • Despite the (upbeat) content of CEO Les Moonves' state-of-the-company presentation, shareholder question No. 1 was about M&A.
    • Moonves yet again dismissed rumors that CBS might take over Viacom (VIA, VIAB): “We have no intention at this point in time or any time in the future to take over anybody ... We are very satisfied with our assets and our performance. We don’t see anything like that."
    • But considering the nature of Redstone's heavy control of both companies, and the confusion around succession, a sale/merger of one or both after his death gets increasingly likely.
    • Redstone's current setup means control of his trust would pass to seven people, only two of which (including daughter Shari Redstone) are family members. The relationship with Shari is reportedly strained, and as Sumner Redstone's live-in girlfriend and ex-girlfriend plan his 92nd birthday party next week, Tony Bennett is invited -- but not Shari.
    • At the meeting, Moonves praised the network's increased ownership of its shows (important as content licensing becomes a more significant revenue driver) and its moves into digital distribution.
    • Previously: Redstone to skip CBS annual meeting next week (May. 14 2015)
    | May 22, 2015, 6:44 PM | 7 Comments
  • Apr. 29, 2015, 10:33 PM
    • Confirming some industry speculation, Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF) was close to buying Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) when the two entered a stock-swap deal in February -- and it fizzled in part because of Starz' valuation, The Wrap's Jon Erlichman writes.
    • John Malone (Starz' biggest shareholder) got a board seat at Lions Gate and Starz got 3.43% of LGF in trade for 4.5% of Starz. But Malone reportedly wanted to make a deal, and Starz had talked with Viacom (VIA, VIAB) Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Fox (FOXA, FOX) last fall, Erlichman says.
    • Starz reports earnings tomorrow and any buyer will have to pony up more now than last September: Shares are up more than 30% from their lowest point then, to $38.60 today. If Starz' valuation was a problem for LGF in February, it's bigger now.
    • But Starz CEO Chris Albrecht describes the two companies as "kissing cousins" and a consolidating industry may force Malone's hand somewhat.
    • Previously: Wolff: Get ready for 'M&A mania' with media consolidation (Apr. 09 2015)
    • Previously: Maffei: More might come from Malone-Lions Gate relationship (Mar. 09 2015)
    | Apr. 29, 2015, 10:33 PM | 2 Comments
Company Description
Viacom, Inc. is a global entertainment content company, which connects with audiences through compelling television programs, motion pictures, short-form video, applications, games, brands for consumer products, social media and other entertainment content. The company operates business through... More
Sector: Services
Industry: Entertainment - Diversified
Country: United States