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Warner Bros. CEO Says Paramount Takeover ‘Good for the Industry’

Shari Redstone arrives at the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley on July 9. (David Paul Morris/Photographer: David Paul Morris/)

(Bloomberg) -- As guests trickled in Tuesday to the annual Sun Valley Conference, Paramount Global’s agreement to merge with David Ellison’s Skydance Media was the talk of the resort.

Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav said the deal, which will see the parent of Paramount Pictures and CBS change hands after decades of control by the Redstone family, will lead to a healthier industry. Ellison, the son of Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison, and RedBird Capital Partners are investing more than $8 billion to take over the company.

“Getting [Paramount] in solid hands and having them funded — it’s a great company and a great heritage, so I think that’s good for the industry,” Zaslav said as he entered the Idaho resort.

Others guests arriving so far include Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger, investors Ken Langone and Peter Thiel, KKR & Co. Co-Founder Henry Kravis, Thrive Capital’s Josh Kushner and his wife, the model Karlie Kloss, as well as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The annual event, sponsored by the investment bank Allen & Co., attracts a who’s who of the media, sports and technology worlds for several days of talks in the mountains.

Zaslav, whose company is frequently the subject of merger speculation, said the entertainment industry needs to do more deals.

“Over the next year or two you’re going to see some real consolidation, whether that happens with companies buying each other or going after streaming together,” he told reporters. 

One such coming together is Venu Sports, a joint venture between Disney, Warner Bros. and Fox Corp. that will put games from the three media giants together in one place, he said.

Asked about the upcoming presidential election, Zaslav said it mattered less to him which which party wins, as long as the next president was friendly to business.

“We just need an opportunity for deregulation, so companies can consolidate and do what we need to to be even better,” he said.

Warner Bros., the parent of CNN, HBO and other channels, has been trying to renew its media rights with the National Basketball Association. Zaslav indicated he may exercise a provision in Warner Bros.’ contract that allows the company to match offers by rival bidders.

“The NBA is still in process, so we’ll see how it plays out,” he said. “We have a matching right.”

A cheerful Shari Redstone, who agreed this week to sell her family’s stake in Paramount to the Ellison-led group, pointed to reporters as she arrived at the Sun Valley resort and said: “We’re going to save the world together!”

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