CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. are in the final stages of negotiating a deal that would reunite mogul Sumner Redstone’s media empire in the hopes of creating a more formidable competitor to the entertainment industry’s giants, reports Benjamin Mullin and Dana Cimilluca of the Wall Street Journal. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/cbs-viacom-in-final-stages-of-deal-talks-11565614901?mod=hp_lead_pos4)
The two sides are still working out details, including the stock exchange ratio for the transaction but have narrowed it down to a range between 0.59 and 0.60 CBS share for each Viacom share, according to people familiar with the matter.
Shari Redstone, Sumner’s daughter, controls both Viacom and CBS and has wanted to merge them for years. (https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/8/12/20802777/cbs-viacom-merger-plan-explained-streaming-discovery-amc-starz-apple-netflix-hbo)
The deal will combine a big cable programmer, whose networks like MTV and Comedy Central used to be powerful financial and cultural engines, and which also owns the Paramount movie studio, with the dominant broadcast TV network, which also owns Showtime.
CBS and Viacom used to be the same company but split apart years ago.
As a result of the deal, Shari, the scion of the empire created by her ailing father Sumner, is on the verge of creating and heading as chairwoman a media colossus, reports Fox Business. (https://www.foxbusiness.com/business-leaders/shari-redstone-poised-to-be-queen-of-all-media-if-cbs-viacom-merge)
The person who will come out on top and officially sit on the throne of the new empire will likely be Shari, the 65-year-old former corporate lawyer and daughter of the man who built one of America’s premier media outfits during his long years as a buyout specialist, reports Charles Gasparino and Lydia Moynihan of Fox Business.
Under one scenario being discussed, Shari could be named chairwoman of the combined entity, while Robert Bakish, the current CEO of Viacom, would likely be named CEO of the new company. The fate of the current CEO of CBS Joseph Ianniello, is unclear; these people say he may stay through a transition, or he could leave immediately.
Ianniello’s contract was extended, but only through 2019, raising doubts about whether he will stay through a transition or immediately leave the company if a merger happens.
(Photo of Shari Redstone.)