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Paramount Stake Attracts Interest From Three Dozen Companies

LONDON — Three dozen companies have expressed an interest in buying the minority stake in Paramount Pictures that its parent Viacom intends to sell, Viacom chief executive Philippe Dauman said Thursday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Dauman said the intention was to seek a strategic partner for Paramount that could help its international and digital businesses, rather than a purely financial investor, such as a private equity firm.

“It’s not about people coming in with money — we’re not even talking to them,” Dauman said. “The players that emerge will be in one or both of two buckets — international and digital technology.”

Dauman added that the size of the stake would depend on the commercial benefits the relationship would deliver to Paramount and Viacom, but that it would only be minority stake.

The suitors “include some Asian interests,” Dauman said. He restated that the transaction would be completed by the end of June.

Dauman admitted that Paramount was going through a tough time at present. In the present quarter, two pics have flopped — “Zoolander 2” and “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” — costing the studio about $100 million.

Viacom announced in February that it was looking to sell “a significant strategic minority equity investment” in Paramount. Dauman said at the time: “In this time of change and enormous opportunity in our industry, a partnership will bring significant benefit to Paramount and Viacom, both strategically and financially, provide new opportunities for Paramount’s employees and talent, and enhance long-term value for all Viacom shareholders.”

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