December 3, 2015 / 7:00 PM / in 2 years

Investor urges Viacom to sell Paramount studio stake to Alibaba: FT

A security guard speaks into a microphone in his sleeve as he stands outside the Viacom Inc. headquarters in New York in this April 30, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

(Reuters) - Viacom Inc’s (VIAB.O) second-largest shareholder has urged the media company to sell a stake in its Paramount movie studio to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N), according to the Financial Times.

"If Alibaba is going to be serious about getting into the entertainment industry Viacom should sell Jack Ma a piece of Paramount," Mario Gabelli, chief executive of Gamco Investors Inc, told the newspaper. (on.ft.com/1lZMUC9)

Earlier this year, Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd (1060.HK) partnered with Paramount Pictures to promote the studio’s latest “Mission: Impossible” installment in China and collaborated in online ticketing, promotion and merchandising for the film.

Gabelli, whose funds hold the second-largest voting stake in Viacom, and Salvatore Muoio, whose firm is the seventh-biggest voting shareholder, voiced concerns about Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone’s mental fitness to remain in the post, Reuters exclusively reported on Wednesday.

Redstone holds the largest voting stake in Viacom.

Viacom shares were down 2.1 percent at $46.69 in morning trade. The shares have fallen about 9 percent since Redstone’s former girlfriend filed a lawsuit on Nov. 25 demanding that Redstone receive a mental examination.

Reporting By Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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