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Twenty-Six Billion Reasons To Buy: Cox Owner Apollo, Sony In Bid For Paramount.

The private equity firm Apollo Global Management, a majority owner of Cox Media Group, has reportedly made a joint $26 billion offer with Sony Pictures Entertainment to buy Paramount Global. The deal would potentially make Cox Media Group’s 50 radio stations and 15 TV stations cousins to CBS and local CBS-owned TV stations.

It also could require divestitures to get a deal past the Federal Communications Commission, although insiders told the Los Angeles Times the companies do not see regulatory hurdles to getting the deal approved. That is despite the fact it would see the two of Hollywood’s biggest movie studios having the same owners.

The Wall Street Journal says Apollo and Sony submitted an offer letter to Paramount on Wednesday. It says the offer is a “starting point” for negotiations and the $26 billion offer is nonbinding. Under the deal structure proposed, Apollo Global would take a minority stake, ceding control to majority shareholder Sony. The Journal says Apollo earlier submitted a similarly-sized offer on its own, but Paramount expressed concerns the firm could arrange the financing needed for the deal on its own.

Paramount Global has been on the block for months, but only during the past few weeks has intensity picked up in the deal-making. Skydance Media has reportedly already proposed a merger with Paramount, with an exclusive negotiation period set to expire on Friday (May 3).

Paramount Global’s controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone, reportedly favors the Skydance deal, which through a series of complicated steps would benefit her at the expense of other shareholders. Paramount fired CEO Bob Bakish on Monday. He is said to have opposed the Skydance merger.

The companies are not commenting, but investors are having their say. Paramount Global’s stock price jumped 13% on Thursday after news of the Apollo Global-Sony bid became public.

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