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Viacom looks to sell Paramount stake

Viacom is exploring selling a “significant” minority investment in its TV and film studio Paramount Pictures.

Philippe DaumanViacom chairman and CEO Philippe Dauman confirmed the news at the Jefferies Media and Communications Conference in New York City, saying: “We have received indications of interest from potential partners seeking a strategic investment in Paramount Pictures and I have decided to pursue discussions with a select group of potential investors.” 

“In this time of change and enormous opportunity in our industry, a partnership will bring significant benefit to Paramount and Viacom, both strategically and financially,provide new opportunities for Paramount’s employees and talent, and enhancelong-term value for all Viacom shareholders.”

This comes after Dauman in November said Viacom would need to “focus on the long-term health and vitality” of the company in order to “turn the corner” and deliver “a new period of prosperity and growth”, following concerns over the firm’s share price.

He had also said that Paramount would “come back and come back strongly in the years to come” after a series of disappointing results at the box office.

paramount_channel_1This week he added that the value of motion picture content continues to increase with the “explosion of screens and the rapid expansion of the global theatrical market” and said it is the “perfect time” to explore new strategies to help Paramount continue to grow.

The news comes less than a month after Viacom launched its TV network Paramount Channel in Italy.

With the launch Paramount said the service will be carried in 90 million homes in total. It is carried in several European markets, having launched in France in 2013 and going live in HD inPoland last year. It has also launched in Russia and Hungary among other territories.

Dauman was recently elevated to chairman of Viacom in a controversial appointment opposed by board member Shari Redstone, whose father Sumner Redstone controls Viacom and CBS through his National Amusements vehicle.