Sale talks are still proceeding, according to the Wall Street Journal, despite resistance from Viacom’s controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone. Last month Variety reported Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s “deliberate, thoughtful and thorough” determination to keep the sale talks alive.
Contacted Thursday local time by Variety, Wanda said it was “unable to make any comment.”
Viacom announced earlier this year that it would seek bidders for a minority portion of the studio. Since then the fight for control between Redstone and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman has intensified and had seemed to limit Dauman’s ability to go ahead with a Paramount stake sale.
In June Redstone attempted to change company bylaws so that a unanimous board vote would be needed for a complete or partial sale of the studio.
But Dauman could still succeed if he were to secure a deal that is attractive enough.
Citing sources believed to be close to Viacom, the Wall Street Journal said that Viacom had recently narrowed the number of bidders down to just two, and in recent days had begun negotiating exclusively with Wanda.
Viacom is understood to be seeking a deal that attributes Paramount with a valuation in the $8-10 billion range. On that basis, if Wanda were to buy a 49% stake it would be expected to pay $4-5 billion.
Wanda has made no secret of its ambitions in entertainment, in China and in Hollywood. It has held talks with other potential companies and increased its investments in a number of Hollywood movies. Recently it became a co-financier of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” a Paramount franchise picture with a production cost of $144 million, which under-performed in several markets and may dent Paramount’s upcoming financial report.