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Byron Allen Bids $3.5 Billion For Paramount Global’s BET, VH1

Media mogul Byron Allen is taking another run at BET Media Group in a $3.5 billion bid sent to Paramount Global for BET and VH1. The offer followed a report that Paramount is in talks to sell BET to a management-led investor group.

via: Variety

On Tuesday, Allen, who is founder and CEO of Allen Media Group, emailed Paramount Global senior executives and board, offering $3.5 billion for BET Media Group, which includes the BET cable channel, VH1, BET Studios and streaming service BET+, sources familiar with the situation confirmed to Variety. That’s up from $2.7 billion that Allen had offered earlier in 2023.

Reps for Paramount Global and Allen Media Group declined to comment. Bloomberg first reported on Allen’s renewed offer for BET. Other potential buyers of BET Media Group include BET CEO Scott Mills, a 26-year veteran of the company, and Chinh Chu, a former executive at private-equity firm Blackstone executive who runs CC Capital Partners, who have discussed a price tag of under $2 billion, Bloomberg reported.

In the email to Paramount brass, Allen wrote, “You are pursuing an inside sale at a below-market price with management that will not yield the highest price for the stockholders. We believe it would be an egregious breach of fiduciary duty by the Paramount Global management team and board of directors if BET is sold for anything less than the highest price, particularly, in order to provide a sweetheart deal to an insider at the expense of public shareholders.”

Earlier this year, Paramount Global had been exploring the sale of a majority stake in BET Media Group, with bidders said to include Allen, Tyler Perry and Sean “Diddy” Combs. In August, Paramount called off the bidding process for BET because “a sale wouldn’t result in any meaningful deleveraging of its balance sheet,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

The renewed interest in a deal for BET comes amid talks between Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global about a potential merger. Meanwhile, Shari Redstone, whose National Amusements owns a controlling stake in Paramount Global, has been in talks to sell her shares in NAI, according to multiple reports.

A deal for BET Media Group would dramatically expand Allen’s media empire. Allen Media Group, which encompasses Entertainment Studios (founded 30 years ago as CF Entertainment), owns 12 cable networks, including the Weather Channel, JusticeCentral.TV, Cars.TV and Pets.TV, a theatrical movie distribution company and a stable of 28 broadcast stations affiliated with the Big Four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC). Allen Media Group also produces, distributes, and sells advertising for 73 television shows, making it one of the largest independent producers/distributors of first-run syndicated TV programming for broadcast stations. The company has nearly 2,300 employees.

In September, Allen publicly announced a $10 billion offer for ABC, eight local TV stations as well as FX and National Geographic Channel, which are also Disney-owned properties. Disney CEO Bob Iger has since said the company’s linear networks are “not for sale.”

Founded by Robert L. Johnson in 1980, BET has been a major outlet for programming aimed at Black audiences since its inception. Johnson sold the cable channel to Viacom in 2001 for $3 billion.

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