CBS, Viacom CEOs met to discuss merger: report

Moonves
CBS CEO Les Moonves (Sarah Ackerman, David Shankbone/Flickr)

CBS CEO Les Moonves and Viacom CEO Bob Bakish reportedly met last Friday to discuss the potential recombination of their companies, which split apart in 2006.

According to CNBC, the two CEOs have begun discussing the particulars of a remerger before the special committees formed to explore a potential deal have met.

At the beginning of the month, CBS and Viacom announced that special committees, including independent legal counsel and independent financial advisors, were beginning to evaluate the merger, though they warned it may not lead to a deal.

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“There can be no assurance that this process will result in a transaction or on what terms any transaction may occur. Neither Viacom nor the Committee intends to comment further until the process is completed,” Viacom said in a statement.

RELATED: Viacom sets up special committee to explore remerger with CBS

National Amusements, which holds a controlling interest in both CBS and Viacom, praised the move toward a potential reunion.

“National Amusements supports the processes announced by CBS and Viacom to evaluate a combination of the two companies, which we believe has the potential to drive significant, long-term shareholder value. National Amusements does not currently intend to make any further comments regarding the process,” the company said in a statement.

As media consolidation has ramped up amid deals including Disney acquiring Fox’s entertainment assets and AT&T buying Time Warner, National Amusements’s Shari Redstone has rekindled interest in a unified front for CBS and Viacom.

According to the The Wall Street Journal, Redstone is also concerned about long-term planning at CBS and the lack of a clear successor for current CEO Les Moonves. Redstone is reportedly prepping a list of names for new directors on CBS’s board.

According to Variety, the reports of Redstone’s dissatisfaction have caught some off guard at CBS and have raised red flags for executives at Viacom, which is still in the midst of a turnaround under Bakish.

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