Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish is expected to step down Monday amid contentious talks to merge with Skydance Media and ahead of the company’s quarterly earnings later that afternoon.

Bakish has clashed with Paramount controlling shareholder Shari Redstone, who questioned whether the CEO pursued strategic opportunities for the company “aggressively enough,” including a potential sale of the Showtime channel, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

At the same time Bakish has privately argued against the Skydance deal because it dilutes common shareholders, CNBC reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish is expected to step down, according to multiple reports, and be replaced by a group of execs on an interim basis. Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

He reportedly joined a chorus of large common shareholders including Mario Gabelli’s Gamco Investors, Ariel Investments, Matrix and Aspen Sky Trust, in slamming the deal because it destroys value for common shareholders.

With tensions running high, Paramount is now expected that Bakish will be replaced on an interim basis with an “Office of the CEO,” comprised of the company’s division heads ahead of Paramount’s earnings release after market on Monday.

Bakish is not expected to be on the earnings call, Deadline reported.

In order to quell shareholders, Bloomberg reported Sunday that Redstone and independent film producer David Ellison have both offered concessions to make the deal more appealing to the company’s other investors.

Ellison is proposing to buy a block of Paramount shares at a premium to their current price to help shore up the company’s finances, Boomberg reported.

Redstone, who own a majority of the company’s voting shares, have agreed to let nonvoting shareholders have a say on whether any transaction should be approved.

Both sides are trying to seal a deal in the face of a major shareholder revolt.

Controlling shareholder Shari Redstone is inching closer to a deal with Skydance, much to the dismay of Paramount shareholders. Getty Images for Rebuilding Bridges

But the ousting of Bakish would add a layer of chaos to a pivotal time for Paramount, home to CBS, MTV, BET and Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures, as its exclusive negotiating window with Skydance is set to expire on May 3.

Gabelli — whose firm through super voting shares and common Paramount stock is the second leading voting shareholder next to Redstone — recently told The Post that he preferred that Bakish continue his turnaround strategy over a sale.

That includes a deal with Skydance or a sale to private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which has offered $26 billion and is now mulling a partnership with Sony as part of its Paramount acquisition.

Bakish’s removal would also mark a somewhat surprising turn of events for the exec, who had been viewed as Redstone’s right hand.

David Ellison is planning on installing himself as Paramount Global CEO should a merger between Skydance and Paramount go through. FilmMagic

He was named CEO of Viacom in 2016, and was elevated to the top job after Redstone merged the company with CBS in 2019.

As Redstone and the Paramount board inch closer to a deal with Skydance which has produced blockbusters for Paramount like “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning,” and “Top Gun: Maverick, Bakish has sought out alternatives.

The Journal said Friday that Bakish has quietly pursued other deal conversations, even as Redstone pushed forward with Skydance talks.

One such deal included a potential streaming partnership with NBCUniversal-parent Comcast, without keeping Redstone or the board in the loop, The Journal said.

Bakish and Comcast had discussed a potential joint venture between Paramount+ and Comcast’s streamer Peacock, The Journal reported in February.  

Redstone and Paramount board members have privately blamed Bakish for not aggressively pursuing certain deals for the company. Christopher Sadowski

Meanwhile Redstone had grown tired of the CEO, blaming him for the company’s overall predicament and what she views as missed chances to strike sound deals, The Journal said.

People close to Redstone said the mogul was open to selling premium channel Showtime, home to “Billions,” Dexter” and “Yellowjackets,” but that Bakish turned down bids — even rejecting a $3 billion offer from former Showtime CEO David Nevins last year. Instead, Bakish folded Showtime and its content into Paramount+.

Bakish supporters beg to differ, saying that the exec put the company on the map with streaming via its Paramount+ launch, acquisition of Pluto TV, an ad-supported TV streaming service, as well as maintaining CBS’s strong industry position, among other things.

Ellison, the son of billionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison, has put his “best and final offer” on the table on Sunday with the offer to buy a block of Paramount shares.

Paramount CEO Bakish has been critical of a deal with Skydance, noting that it would dilute common shareholders. Getty Images for Viacom

Should a deal go through privately-owned Skydance would be valued at $5 billion and merged with Paramount.

Ellison, along with private equity firms KKR and Redbird, plan to raise about $4.5 billion to $5 billion in new equity, according to reports.

Roughly $2 billion of the sum would be used to buy out Redstone and another substantial portion would be used to pay down debt.

If a deal gets inked, Ellison is expected be named CEO of Paramount Global and former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell as president, CNBC said. That doesn’t leave a future at the company for Bakish.

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