Shaq, 50 Cent, Kenya Barris latest group to launch bid for BET acquisition

Written by on May 8, 2023

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Shaquille O’Neal, Kenya Barris, and 50 Cent – real name Curtis Jackson – are entering the bid for a majority stake in Paramount Global’s BET Media Group.

Sources familiar with the bid say the trio has joined forces with Group Black, which aims to invest in and expand Black-owned media companies, private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, and Authentic Brands Group, which develops and licenses its brands to retail operators, for the potential business move, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Barris is already a minority stakeholder in BET Studios, a production division of BET, along with Rashida Jones and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas.

Shaq, 50 Cent, Kenya Barris -- BET Acquisition
Celebrities (from left) Shaquille O’Neal, 50 Cent and Kenya Barris have joined the growing list of people eyeing a majority stake in Paramount Global’s BET Media Group. (Photos by, from left: Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images; Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Peabody Awards)

Bids for BET Media Group — which owns the VH1 and BET cable networks and the BET+ streaming service — reportedly are due later this month. With support from cable tycoon John Malone, Robert Johnson established BET in 1980. It was the first national television network aimed primarily toward Black viewers. Viacom, now known as Paramount Global, purchased BET in 2000 for $2.3 billion in shares and $570 million in existing debt.

Byron Allen, the founder and CEO of Allen Media Group, which owns theGrio, and actor-producer Tyler Perry — who owns a minority stake in the BET+ streaming service — also plan to bid for BET Media Group.

According to theGrio, Allen, the first Black American to own The Weather Channel, has amassed an empire comprising 36 broadcast television stations, 10 (24-hour HD) television networks and well-known names like theGrio, HBCUGo and Local Now. He has stated that his goal is to create the most extensive media conglomerate in the world.

“BET is a great American brand and if it becomes available, we’re very interested and we will pursue it vigorously,” the business mogul shared with theGrio. “It’s a big opportunity.”

Perry reportedly has partnered with private equity firm Ariel Alternatives, an affiliate of the asset-management company Ariel Investments, for his bid, The Journal reported. Music icon Sean “Diddy” Combs and his company, Revolt, have joined forces with investment firm HarbourView Equity Partners to consider an offer, according to reports.

As it looks to shore up resources to concentrate on its leading streaming service, Paramount+, Paramount Global wants to sell non-core assets such as its majority share in BET. The corporation last week disclosed a $1.1 billion first-quarter loss, which included a $511 million adjusted operating loss in its streaming segment.

Over the past few years, advertisers have made a greater effort to increase their spending with outlets run by minorities.

“As African-Americans, we are very much underrepresented,” Allen told theGrio. “So I think it’s important we lean in; we control our platforms — we own them, that way we control the narrative. We control how we’re produced, how we’re depicted and how we’re seen around the world.”

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