CBS and Viacom Move Closer to Merger Talks

Variety | 4/25/2019 | Cynthia Littleton
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The CBS Corp. board of directors is moving closer to initiating acquisition discussions with Viacom, according to multiple sources close to the situation.

The move has been expected for months, although there may still be obstacles on the road to a reunion for the two sides of the Redstone media empire. Price could still be a sticking point. People close to the matter said CBS views Viacom as having a host of troubled assets including low-profile cable channels that are endangered species in a skinny bundle world. But Viacom believes it is in a much stronger position than it was this time last year, when the sides last made a fitful attempt at merger talks.

Signal - Movement - Recombination - Companies - CBS

The strongest signal of the movement toward a recombination of the companies that were joined from 2000 through 2006 was CBS’ decision on Tuesday to call off its search for a permanent CEO. Joseph Ianniello, who has served as president and acting CEO since September, extended his contract, which had been set to expire in June, through the end of this year.

CBS’ long-term fate has been uncertain since last September, when longtime chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves was fired as sexual assault allegations from the past surfaced through investigative reporting by the New Yorker. But in the months leading up to Moonves’ ouster, CBS had been embroiled in a bitter legal battle with controlling shareholder Shari Redstone for control of the company. CBS claimed that Redstone was improperly trying to force a merger of CBS and Viacom as a means of rescuing Viacom at the expense of CBS shareholders. That litigation was settled last September as part of Moonves’ exit negotiations.

Hurdle - Time - Dispute - Management - Configuration

A big hurdle the last time around was a dispute over the management configuration for the combined company. With Moonves out of the picture, those concerns are seen as...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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