Byron Allen, the CEO of Allen Media Group, has renewed his bid to acquire BET Media Group from Paramount Global. This time he’s increasing the offer to $3.5 billion from the earlier $2.7 billion in 2023, according to sources familiar with the situation. The news follows Allen’s email to Paramount executives criticizing the pursuit of an inside sale at a below-market price and emphasizing the fiduciary duty to obtain the highest price for stockholders.
In the email addressed to Paramount brass, Allen stated, “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.”
The renewed interest in acquiring BET follows the cancellation of the bidding process by Paramount in August, citing the lack of meaningful deleveraging of its balance sheet. Potential buyers for BET Media Group include BET CEO Scott Mills and Chinh Chu of CC Capital Partners, who discussed a price tag under $2 billion. Ongoing talks about a potential merger between Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global add complexity to the situation.
A successful deal for BET Media Group would significantly expand Allen’s media empire, which already includes 12 cable networks, a theatrical movie distribution company, and 28 broadcast stations affiliated with major networks. Founded in 1980 by Robert L. Johnson, BET has been a major outlet for programming aimed at Black audiences, with Viacom acquiring the cable channel in 2001 for $3 billion.
Allen’s $3.5 billion bid is part of a broader strategy, as he publicly announced a $10 billion offer for ABC, local TV stations, and Disney-owned properties like FX and National Geographic Channel in September. However, Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that the company’s linear networks are not for sale.
The news of Allen’s renewed bid for BET comes amid ongoing talks between Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global about a potential merger. Legalities surrounding the Reverse Morris Trust suggest that the merger might not occur until the spring. Allen, along with Tyler Perry and others, had previously competed to buy BET earlier in the year, but Paramount Global took BET off the sales block.
BET, or Black Entertainment Television, comprises linear networks, BET+, BET Studios, launched in 2021, and VH1, which was moved under the BET umbrella last year. The network, founded as the first cable channel catering to Black audiences, has been a significant player in the industry. However, the future ownership of BET remains uncertain as discussions and negotiations continue.
Originally read on Variety.