New Viacom CEO Bakish reportedly interested in buying stake in Vice

Viacom operates a range of brands including MTV.

Bob Bakish, Viacom’s new acting president and CEO, wants the company to acquire an interest in the millennial-focused media company Vice.

The New York Post reported, citing unnamed sources, that Bakish could join a range of other companies in bidding for a stake in Vice, an endeavor that would gain Viacom a holding that it owned previously.

Indeed, former Viacom CEO Tom Freston in June blasted previous Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman for letting go of an important interest in Vice, CNBC reported.

“In 2006, Dauman let a key piece of Vice go for $3 million,” Freston told CNBC earlier this year. “Today, the whole brand is worth $4.5 billion. Furthermore, had Dauman kept that piece of Vice, they would have had a much-needed platform in the digital world. They'd have a home for the Nickelodeon graduates.”

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Bakish’s ambition to reunite Viacom with Vice comes less than a month after he was named acting president and CEO, indicating again that Bakish has no intention of letting Viacom’s operations continue on autopilot.

"I have been chartered by the board to focus on running Viacom as a strong independent company and putting in place a strategy, which will grow the company over time,” Bakish told The Hollywood Reporter.

The strategy apparently includes a backup plan if the Viacom-CBS merger is not completed, The Post reported, but CBS is also independently looking into investing in Vice, which could cause an issue for Viacom. The Redstone family controls both Viacom and CBS and supports the merger between the two.

Vice became the first digital media company to launch its own cable channel earlier this year: Viceland, which seeks to appeal to a younger demographic with new approaches to commercial presentation. That includes a goal of better engagement using native advertising and less advertising overall. 

Disney currently owns a 23 percent stake in Vice, and British advertising and public relations company WPP and 21st Century Fox also back the startup-turned-international media company. The Post reported that Viacom, CBS and Vice declined to comment.

Last month, Viacom announced a $345 million deal to acquire Televisión Federal S.A. (Telefe), one of the main free-to-air channels in Argentina. The deal will give Viacom control of a channel that reaches 95 percent of Argentina’s 43 million residents and attracts a 33 percent viewership share.