Media and entertainment giant Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has reportedly collaborated with private equity firm Apollo Global Management to table an offer for media conglomerate Paramount.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week (May 2) that a non-binding offer of $26 billion in cash, in excess of Paramount’s $22 billion reported market value, had been tabled by the two parties, a bid that would include Paramount’s $14.6 billion of debt.

Paramount stock shot up by 12% after the news broke, with many investors hopeful of an end to the drawn-out sales process negotiated by a shareholder with less than 10% of the company under its control.

National Amusements, the controlling company behind Paramount and owner of 77% of its voting stock (but less than 10% of overall shares), rejected a previous $26 billion offer from Apollo, with National Amusements president Shari Redstone seemingly concerned over the sourcing of Apollo’s funding.

Now though, with industry giant SPE joining the deal as a joint venture partner of Apollo, a deal may become more likely.

Apollo may also soon become the preferred bidder should Paramount’s negotiations with film studio Skydance falter, as is likely.

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Skydance entered into a 30-day period of exclusive negotiations with Paramount over a takeover agreement on April 3, a period that is now ending.

Earlier this week (May 1), Paramount chief executive and president Bob Bakish immediately exited both roles after reportedly clashing with Redstone over the process of the sale.

Alongside its storied film studio division, Paramount Global is a major sporting rightsholder whose national network CBS this year aired the most-watched Super Bowl in history.

SPE is no stranger to the sports broadcast business either, owning and operating the high-profile Indian Sports rightsholder Sony Sports Network, which broadcasts a number of high-profile global sporting competitions in the country including soccer’s UEFA Champions League, among many others.