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Gasparino: CBS-Viacom Talks Near Critical Stage

Gasparino: CBS-Viacom Talks Near Critical Stage
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By    |   Monday, 10 June 2019 12:31 PM

Merger talks between CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. will likely reach a critical stage this week as the board of CBS meets to go over the discussions during its regularly scheduled gathering, Fox Business Network’s Charles Gasparino reported.

The two companies have been engaged in preliminary merger discussions since mid-April, the latest attempt to combine the outfits controlled by the Redstone family's National Amusements Inc., according to a FBN report by Gasparino and Lydia Moynihan.

The merger talks are not yet complete and could conceivably be bogged down or called off as they have in the past, sources add. Deal terms and management structure may also change as the two side hash out various details, the FBN report said.

"But if the two media giants combine, they could have a market value of around $30 billion, making it a substantial competitor in the media space not just in terms of size, but also scope," the report said.

"Between the two of them, they boast some of the most popular news, major sports and entertainment programming in America, since CBS (CBS) was and continues to be a ratings leader, nabbing five of the top 10 television series. Viacom (VIA) controls broadcast staples such as MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and movie studio Paramount Pictures."

The reunion of the companies that were brought together in 2000 and split up again in 2006 has been expected for more than three years, Reuters reported. Controlling shareholder Shari Redstone has advocated for the consolidation to help both companies better compete against its larger media rivals and tech giants.

The prospect of CBS and Viacom reuniting sparked a bloody corporate legal battle last year between CBS, then lead by Leslie Moonves, and Redstone for control of CBS. But Moonves was ousted last fall amid the revelation of disturbing sexual misconduct allegations. The litigation was settled and CBS' board of directors was overhauled with members who are expected to be more open to a Viacom acquisition than the previous regime.

The question of post-merger leadership of the enlarged company had also been a source of friction that is now eased by the fact that Moonves it out of the picture.

Viacom president-CEO Bob Bakish has headed Viacom since late 2016. CBS at present is led by president and acting CEO Joe Ianniello, who was formerly COO under Moonves. CBS called off its search for a new CEO last month, which was widely read as a sign that Viacom merger talks were on the near-term horizon.

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Merger talks between CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. will likely reach a critical stage this week as the board of CBS meets to go over the discussions during its regularly scheduled gathering, Fox Business Network’s Charles Gasparino reported.
gasparino, cbs, viacom, talks
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2019-31-10
Monday, 10 June 2019 12:31 PM
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