Viacom wants to sell a piece of Paramount

New York - Media-entertainment giant Viacom said Tuesday it was seeking a minority investor for its Paramount studios in Hollywood to adapt to a shifting industry landscape.

Viacom's chairman and chief executive Philippe Dauman said the company had "received indications of interest from potential partners" and that it would explore these options.

Viacom and Paramount have been under pressure to adapt to changes in the industry as power shifts to streaming media giants like Netflix and Amazon.

Dauman took on the title of chairman earlier this month, replacing 92-year-old Sumner Redstone amid concerns the company was failing to keep pace with its rivals.

"In this time of change and enormous opportunity in our industry, a partnership will bring significant benefit to Paramount and Viacom, both strategically and financially, provide new opportunities for Paramount's employees and talent, and enhance long-term value for all Viacom shareholders," Dauman said in a statement after he unveiled the plan at a conference in New York.

The comments suggested that Viacom and Paramount are looking for ways to get more value for their vast library of content.

"Paramount Pictures has been a leading motion picture studio for more than a century and is among a select few that has significant reach and scale, a deep library, a robust pipeline with proven global franchises, and a high potential television production operation," Dauman said.

"In addition, the value of motion picture content continues to increase with the explosion of screens and the rapid expansion of the global theatrical market. This is the perfect time to explore new strategies to capitalise on Paramount's content expertise and global platform."

Viacom owns the large Paramount studios in Hollywood and cable networks including MTV and Nickelodeon, but its stock has been hit by growth concerns, as well as by the uncertainty surrounding Redstone, who had remained in firm control despite failing health until recently.

One fund, SpringOwl Asset Management, called last month for the replacement of the entire Viacom board, claiming it was underperforming compared with rival media groups.

SpringOwl said in a statement Tuesday that the move by Viacom "is an important step and something we've specifically urged the company to pursue" and added that "the positive reaction in (Viacom's) share price illustrates the support we have among shareholders."

Viacom shares rose one per cent to US$41.01 at the close but remain around half the level of two years ago.