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Warner Bros. Discovery ends merger talks with Paramount Global, sources say

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Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Discovery’s David Zaslav speaks at the New York Times Annual DealBook Summit on November 29, 2023 in New York.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Discovery of Warner Bros. has lowered its pencils on a possible acquisition of Paramount Worldwideending negotiations after several months of discussions about merging the media companies, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Skydance Media, the film and television studio run by David Ellison, is still conducting due diligence on a possible transaction, said two of the people, who asked to speak anonymously because the negotiations are private.

Paramount Global set up a special committee, which hired its own financial advisor, to sift through potential bids for the entire company or certain assets. Media mogul Byron Allen Free $14 billion for the company last month, even though it has a history of bid and not buy major media assets.

Comcast, owner of CNBC parent NBCUniversal, is not interested in acquiring Paramount Global’s assets, one of the people said. Comcast worked with in-house bankers to explore a potential business partnership with Paramount Worldwideaccording to people familiar with the matter.

This could include the consolidation or merger of streaming services Peacock and Paramount+, as previously reported by The Wall Street Journal, or a different arrangement. However, it is unclear whether Paramount Global would be interested in this move as it explores sales scenarios.

Spokespeople for Comcast, Paramount Global, Skydance Media and Warner Bros. Discovery declined to comment.

David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, had a preliminary conversation with Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish, CNBC reported in December. The companies engaged in more serious merger discussions in January, but discussions have calmed this month.

Warner Bros. shares Discovery fell 10% on Friday after the company Missed Analyst Earnings and Revenue Targets. The stock has fallen 47% over the past year and is near its 52-week low.

Paramount Global is also trading near a 52-week low as it prepares to announce results on Wednesday.

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