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Instant Analysis: Viacom Seeking "Strategic Investments" for Paramount Pictures

By Eric Volkman – Feb 25, 2016 at 3:18PM

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The company wants to unload a "significant" minority stake in the famous movie studio.

What happened?
Pssst, wanna buy into a top-shelf Hollywood movie studio? Well, if you've got a few million dollars lying around, now's your chance. Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA) (VIAB) announced that it has begun the process to, in its words, "explore opportunities for a significant strategic minority equity investment" in its film studio, Paramount Pictures.


For those who want to make a play for a piece of Paramount, though, the competition might be stiff. According to Viacom, it has "received indications of interest," from a group of potential investors, and will enter discussions with those entities. Viacom did not specify who those possible partners might be, nor did it say how many of them there are.

Does it matter?
This is the first news released about Viacom's hunt for junior partners in Paramount Pictures, so details are fuzzy just now. We don't know how much of Paramount is on the block or how much will ultimately be divested. We're also in the dark as to who those potential partners are and how much they'll be paying for their stakes. Therefore, at this point, it's tough to gauge the impact the divestment will have on the parent company.

It does illustrate Viacom's struggles in the film sphere, however. The studio has been a laggard compared to its peers, releasing exactly none of the top 10 grossing movies of 2015. Its best performer -- the overly punctuated Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation -- clocked in at no. 11, and had a domestic gross less than one-fourth the take of that year's leader, the Walt Disney release Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

2016 doesn't look on track to be any different. So far this year, Paramount has but one release in the top 10, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. And its box office take wasn't much higher than its production budget.

Eric Volkman owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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