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Paramount Stake Auction: DMG Entertainment Emerges As Surprise Suitor

EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has learned that Dan Mintz’s Beijing- and Los Angeles-based DMG Entertainment is one of the entities seeking to buy a piece of Paramount Pictures. The sale of what is believed to be a 40% stake in the Melrose Avenue studio is thought to be going for about $2 billion. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman told investors last month that the company had been “approached by several potential strategic investors in Paramount” and is “pursuing a transaction with a strategic minority investor,” although he did not name the parties involved.

Since then, speculation has been that Paramount has attracted interest from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, and the very acquisitive Dalian Wanda Group. Neither has been confirmed.

DMG’s interest, which multiple sources have confirmed, in getting a chunk of a Hollywood studio comes as something of a surprise while much of the speculative attention has focused on the Chinese giants. It’s not clear if Paramount is speaking with Middle Kingdom companies only, but access to the world’s soon-to-be largest box office market is seen as the Holy Grail these days and there is a lot of money flowing to Hollywood from the PROC.

DMG is officially a U.S. company, but has deep ties in China. Its interests include features, television, music, gaming, OTT, mobile distribution platforms, live entertainment, creative management, and communications. It also has a Chinese affiliate, DMG Yinji Entertainment and Media, which is traded on the Shenzhen Exchange.

DMG is already tangentially in business with Paramount, having inked a deal with Hasbro to launch the world’s first live-action Transformers attraction in China. Transformers has been a major property in the Middle Kingdom where Paramount entered a cooperation agreement for Transformers: Age Of Extinction with state-backed China Movie Channel and U.S./Chinese streaming company Jiaflix, and saw it become the biggest-grossing film ever in the market when it released in summer 2014.