24 October 2016
Sumner Redstone fought long and hard to acquire Paramount Pictures from Barry Diller in 1994. Photo: Reuters
Sumner Redstone fought long and hard to acquire Paramount Pictures from Barry Diller in 1994. Photo: Reuters

China’s Wanda eyeing Viacom’s Paramount, say sources

Chinese real estate and entertainment group Dalian Wanda is exploring a minority stake in Paramount Pictures.

Reuters is reporting that the Chinese conglomerate has held talks with Viacom Inc. about buying into its movie unit, Reuters reports.

Wanda’s interest comes amid deliberations over Paramount’s future, a flashpoint in a bitter row between Viacom chief executive Philippe Dauman and  controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone.

Wanda, which bought production company Legendary Entertainment in January, has been trying to expand its US movie business.

Redstone has opposed the sale, which is not possible without his consent.

Other parties besides Wanda have also expressed an interest in Paramount, and there is no certainty any deal will be reached, according to Reuters.

Earlier this year, Wanda invested in Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel.

The Paramount deal has been championed by Dauman, who is seeking to sell a 49 percent stake in the movie studio but opposed by 93-year-old Redstone, who owns 80 percent of the US$40 billion media empire that includes Viacom and CBS Corp.

It is not clear that Redstone and his daughter Shari Redstone would agree to a deal if one was struck.

Redstone, supported by his daughter, is waging a two-pronged legal battle with Dauman and other Viacom directors, which originated with a disagreement over the proposed sale of a stake in Paramount.

In May, Redstone removed Dauman and another Viacom board member, George Abrams, from the seven-person Sumner M Redstone National Amusements Inc. Trust, which will determine the fate of Redstone’s holdings, and hence the future of Viacom and CBS, after Redstone dies or is incapacitated.

Paramount has special resonance for Redstone, who fought long and hard to acquire the movie studio from Barry Diller in 1994.

Redstone’s move to throw Dauman and Abrams off his trust is the subject of a court case in Massachusetts.

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