After months of negotiations, BET is up for sale again. Paramount Global initially engaged in talks with Tyler Perry, but the deal fell through. The network conglomerate is now seeking to sell the Black network to an investment firm. Despite this, Byron Allen remains interested in making a deal.
For little less than $2 billion, BET could be sold to an inside bidder, sources told Bloomberg.
On Dec. 20, Bloomberg reported that BET might be acquired by a management-led investor group. The publication named Chinh Chu, the former Blackstone executive and current head of New York-based CC Capital Partners, as the possible buyer.
Previous BET Bidders
As Finurah previously reported, earlier this year the billionaire playwright and TV producer Perry was rumored to be close to acquiring BET from Paramount, and he was backed by Ariel Alternatives.
Perry ultimately backed out of the deal and later complained publicly that he felt disrespected.
During the Oct. 18 “Bloomberg Equality: An Evening with Tyler Perry” at The Gathering Spot in metropolitan Atlanta, he said, “I was disappointed about it for a number of reasons. The way it happened was disrespectful in a lot of ways,” Perry said.
Perry did not explain what exactly Paramount heads did, but he still maintains a minority stake in the BET+ streaming service and continues to provide content to Paramount programs, including BET and Nickelodeon, through a multiyear content partnership established in 2019.
Who is Chu?
Chu taking the lead in owning BET raises questions about the essence of the once-dominant brand in Black entertainment.
Despite Chu’s 25 years of leadership in mergers and acquisitions, Allen, owner of Allen Media Group, appears to resist the idea, presumably believing that BET (Black Entertainment Television) would be better managed under his leadership.
“You are pursuing an inside sale at a below-market price with management that will not yield the highest price for the stockholders,” Allen wrote in an email sent to Paramount’s executive leadership and board of directors on Dec 19.
Allen aims to acquire sister networks BET and VH1 for $3.5 billion, having previously offered $3 billion. Despite rallying four banks and two private equity firms for the bid, Paramount appears uninterested in accepting his offer.
Other interested parties include NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, film and TV producer Kenya Barris, rapper 50 Cent, and Group Black, a company focused on advancing and investing in Black-owned media properties, expressed interest in acquiring BET.
Before facing a series of sexual assault allegations, billionaire and rapper Diddy had shown interest in acquiring BET to enhance his own network, Revolt TV.
Diddy, supported by HarbourView Equity Partners in his bid for BET, has stepped down from his executive duties at Revolt, and has not expressed interest in putting in a new bid.
Why BET is for sale
Seventy-seven percent of Paramount’s Class A voting shares are owned by National Amusements, led by Shari Redstone of the Redstone family. Her late father, Sumner Murray Redstone, was the founder and chairman of the second incarnation of Viacom, as well as the chairman of CBS Corporation, formerly known as ViacomCBS.
In 2021, Paramount established BET Studios through a collaboration with “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris, actress and daughter of Quincy Jones, Rashida Jones, and “S.W.A.T” co-creator Aaron Rahsaan Thomas.
As of Dec. 19, Axios reported that Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Paramount CEO Bob Bakish, alongside Shari Redstone, engaged in lengthy discussions at the Paramount headquarters in New York about a potential merger. This merger, if realized, would pose as a formidable rival to streaming giants like Netflix and Disney+.
Paramount, the owner of Paramount Plus, holds a long-term debt of $15.62 billion. In comparison, Warner Bros. Discovery, owner of Max, carries a higher long-term debt nearing $43.5 billion. Despite this, Warner Bros. Discovery’s market cap stands at $29 billion, while Paramount’s is around $10 billion, indicating a potentially one-sided dynamic in the proposed merger.