Paramount CEO Bob Bakish could be out as soon as Monday as Skydance merger talks continue

Bob Bakish, then president and chief executive officer of Viacom Inc., speaks during the Mobile World Congress Americas event in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. 

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Paramount Global’s board is preparing to fire Chief Executive Officer Bob Bakish as soon as Monday morning, according to people familiar with the matter.

Paramount Global reports its quarterly earnings Monday. Bakish won’t be on the call, the people said.

The board is expected to lean on company division heads in lieu of a CEO while it negotiates a possible merger with Skydance Media. Paramount Global has set up a special committee to explore the deal. The companies are in exclusive talks to pursue a deal until May 3, though that window could be extended.

Bakish has lost the trust of Paramount Global controlling shareholder Shari Redstone, according to people familiar with her thinking. Redstone wanted to make a move to oust Bakish before Paramount Global’s carriage negotiation with Charter Communications, which is pivotal for setting a value for the company in its merger talks with Skydance, the people said.

A spokesperson for Paramount Global declined to comment.

Paramount and Skydance have been making headway on a final deal, under which Bakish would leave Paramount, CNBC reported Thursday. Skydance intends to name its CEO David Ellison to helm Paramount, according to people familiar with the matter.

In private, Bakish has dissented against the merger, claiming that it could dilute common shareholders, according to people familiar with the matter.

Under the deal terms, almost 50% of the merged company would be owned by Skydance and its private equity partners, CNBC reported April 5. Common shareholders would own the remainder of the company, which would continue to trade publicly.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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