Alibaba named as potential suitor in Paramount Pictures sale

Alibaba is the latest business to have been named as a potential buyer of Paramount Pictures, as founder Jack Ma has reportedly met Shari Redstone, a shareholder in Paramount Pictures’ parent business Viacom via her father’s business National Amusements.

Alibaba already has a relationship with the Hollywood studio as it recently announced that it was investing in two of its biggest franchises, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Trek.

An Alibaba spokesperson spoke to The Drum, however, and strongly denied the rumours.

"This rumor is totally untrue. Joe Tsai, our executive vice chairman, is willing to go on record on this," said the spokesperson.

The news, reported by The New York Post, is the latest in a series of dramatic twists that are developing as Viacom seeks to sell.

According to reports, a sale of Paramount Pictures could help boost the share price of Viacom but the controlling stakeholder, National Amusements owner Sumner Redstone, had previously been opposed.

A report from Bloomberg details a situation in which the Redstones removed Viacom chief executive officer Philippe Dauman, who is managing the sale of the business, and director George Abrams from the board of his holding company, National Amusements Inc. Dauman has responded by suggesting that 93-year old Sumner is being manipulated by his daughter.

Viacom Inc. lead independent director Fred Salerno has since penned an open letter to the Redstones, expressing concerns about the communication between Sumner and the rest of the board. He asked for greater cooperation during the investigation to ensure potential investors were not put off by the ongoing dispute.

Charlotte McEleny

Charlotte McEleny is The Drum's Asia Editor, charged with finding all the interesting industry news and insights from the Asia Pacific region. During her year in Asia, she's covered topics as wide ranging as industry overwork to artificial intelligence, and interviewed top CMOs such as Alibaba's Chris Tung, and world famous creatives such as Rankin.

Based in Singapore, she travels the region regularly, attending and presenting at many top events, such as Spikes, Ad Week Asia and Innovfest.

Prior to her role as Asia Editor, she spent 10 years working across the London marketing trade magazines, even picking up an award for Best Digital Team at the PPA Digital Awards during her spell as digital editor at Marketing.

All by Charlotte