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Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman did his best to promote Paramount as “a real growth business” while talking to Wall Street analysts Monday about his plan to sell a minority equity stake in the film studio.
Dauman said he hopes a deal for a stake in Paramount can be struck by the end of the second calendar quarter, and at the Deutsche Bank 2016 Media, Internet & Telecom Conference he was likely making the case that its worth more than an estimated $5 billion or so.
He touted not only Paramount’s “very high-quality library which is continually being replenished” but also Paramount’s television production unit and some licensed theme-park projects in the works.
Dauman wouldn’t say who he is speaking to — only that he’s looking for a partner that can help with international and digital initiatives — but observers speculate that Alibaba and other Asian entities might be interested in Paramount.
He said it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for one of those players to get a significant interest in one of the major studios at a premium valuation.”
“It’s a crown jewel out there,” said Dauman. “I feel very good about the kind of players that we’re talking to.”
He revealed two weeks ago at a different gathering of Wall Street analysts that he was seeking a stakeholder in Paramount, but that he has no intention of Viacom giving up control of the iconic studio.
Viacom’s shares have been hammered for more than a year and large investors are clamoring for change, and Dauman suggested Monday that selling a chunk of Paramount can be part of the solution to the ailing stock.
“Looking past the disappointing operating performance over the last couple of years, we’re replenishing the cupboard and looking to a good performance and I want to accelerate that,” he said.
“It will help drive Viacom forward as well as bring out some of the value that’s not being recognized right now, in this case in Paramount,” Dauman said.
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