Bids for the Hollywood studio are due in May, but DMG has begun its due diligence process, according to individuals with knowledge of the matter. Skydance and 21st Century Fox had been interested in Paramount, but are not expected to be active bidders. The companies would prefer to buy the studio outright instead of being passive investors, but Paramount is not for sale.
A spokesperson for DMG did not immediately return calls for comment, and a spokesperson for JP Morgan declined to comment.
In February, Viacom chairman Philippe Dauman said proceeds from the sale of a Paramount stake would be used to pay down debt and grow the studio. At an investor conference earlier this month, he predicted that a deal would be done by the end of the next financial quarter.
DMG Entertainment would make sense as a strategic partner. The Chinese-based company has deep ties in the country. With China’s box office growing at a furious clip, that could give Paramount an advantage in strengthening its position in a market that is expected to pass the U.S. by next year. The company also has produced and distributed some Hollywood films in China, including “Iron Man 3,” “Looper” and “Point Break.”
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In November, DMG signed a letter of intent to acquire Taiwan-based television network EBC from Carlyle Group for $600 million. In January, DMG partnered with Hasbro to create a live show based on “Transformers.” Paramount produces and distributes the films centered on the battling robots.
DMG, which trades on the Shenzhen stock exchange, has a $5 billion market cap.