Paramount Global ends BET sale process after bids fail to impress


Paramount Global has given up on plans to sell a majority stake in BET Media Group after deciding it would not deleverage its balance sheet in ‘any meaningful’ way, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The US newspaper said the company had ended the bidding process for the outfit having received bids of between $2bn-3bn. BET operates streamer BET+ as well as the BET channel, BET Studios and VH1.

The BET division is focused on Black culture , with BET Studios only launched by Paramount in 2021 following a deal with actor Rashida Jones, writer Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and Black-ish creator Kenya Barris. BET’s output ranges from Sistas and All The Queen’s Men, to First Wives Club and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.

Among those interested in the stake were US media tycoons Tyler Perry and Byron Allen. Perry holds a 25% minority stake in BET and has a multi-year content deal with Paramount, while Allen owns the Black News Channel among other media properties.

Paramount, then Viacom, acquired BET in 2000 for $2.9bn in stock and debt. The studio has been looking to divest assets more recently to fund development of its loss-making streamer Paramount+ and focus on core entertainment assets.

Earlier this month, Paramount agreed the sale of publishing outfit Simon & Schuster to private equity investors KKR for $1.62bn in a move that president and CEO Bob Bakish said would deliver value for shareholders and help delever the group’s balance sheet.

Paramount’s flagship streamer Paramount+ now has around 61 million subscribers but delivered a loss of $424m for the quarter to June. Like other US majors, the studios has implemented significant cost cutting as it grapples with streaming-related losses.

During the company’s last earnings call, Bakish was non-committal about the future of BET, telling analysts only that the company was “looking for ways to maximse shareholder value” that could “involve divesting acquiring or potentially partnering on assets”.

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