CBS-Viacom merger could be finalised today

High-profile unification of the media conglomerates – both owned by National Amusements – hinges on stock valuation and who from each senior team will take top roles in new combined company

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 12.08.2019 | Entertainment

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CBS and Viacom executives this weekend hashed out the details of a merger between the two media conglomerates, which is in the closing stages and could be announced today, according to Reuters’ sources.

The firms, which were originally split into separate entities 13 years ago, still share the same parent company in National Amusements, the media empire owned by 96-year-old billionaire Sumner Redstone and led by his daughter Shari Redstone.

The Redstones are now aiming to reunite the companies in an all-stock merger, which will award Viacom shareholders a corresponding amount of CBS shares, though at a value lower than their closing price on Friday evening.

This is the third time Viacom and CBS have come close to merging in recent years. Previous efforts fell at the last hurdle due bickering and disagreements between both boards over two key details: the value of each other’s stock and subsequent stakeholder pay out – and job security for after the ink dried.

Last time round, CBS was helmed by Leslie Moonves, the disgraced chairman who was forced out late last year amid a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations and was denied an exit package worth $120m.

Should this new deal go through, a senior leadership team and new board would be comprised of both Viacom and CBS executives. Variety reports Viacom CEO Bob Bakish would head up the new entity, while CBS boss Joe Ianniello would be placed in charge of CBS-branded programming and assets.

The merger would join global Viacom IP like Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures and MTV with CBS’ Showtime TV network, CBS Interactive online properties like CNET, Gamespot and Metacritic, and CBS publishing division Simon and Schuster.


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