Sun, 18 Aug 2019

CBS, Viacom Reach Deal to Reunite Sumner Redstone's Media Empire

Voice of America
14 Aug 2019, 08:35 GMT+10

CBS and Viacom have reached a deal to reunite media mogul Sumner Redstone's U.S. entertainment empire after 13 years apart.

The new company will be named ViacomCBS Inc despite the fact that CBS shareholders will own 61% and Viacom shareholders will own 39%.

Viacom shareholders will receive 0.59625 CBS shares for each share they own, representing a slight premium to Viacom's closing price Monday.

The merger creates a company with roughly $30 billion market value, which is still small compared to rivals including Netflix, at $136 billion; ABC network owner Walt Disney Co., at about $245 billion; and NBC owner Comcast at $193 billion.

It will combine the CBS television network, CBS News, Showtime cable networks with MTV Networks, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and the Paramount movie studios. Together, they will own more than 140,000 TV episodes and more than 3,600 film titles.

Annually, it is estimated to generate about $28 billion in revenue.

The two companies are controlled by National Amusements, the holding company owned by billionaire Sumner Redstone and his daughter, Shari.

"My father once said 'content is king,' and never has that been more true than today," Shari Redstone said in a prepared statement.

The deal represents a victory for Shari Redstone, president of National Amusement, after three attempts since 2016. Previous merger talks had failed because of clashes between executives over divvying up top jobs and the companies' relative valuation.

Growing competition

The recombination comes amid an increasingly competitive media landscape dominated by Disney and Netflix, prompting Redstone to pursue a merger.

Viacom Chief Executive Bob Bakish will be the President and CEO of the combined company. Joe Ianniello, interim CEO of CBS, will be named Chairman and CEO of CBS, which will exclude the Showtime cable network and book publisher Simon & Schuster.

The companies said they expected about $500 million in annual synergies, or cost savings.

The new board of directors will consist of 13 members. Six will come from independent members from CBS, four independent members from Viacom, Bakish, and two National Amusements members. Shari Redstone will be appointed the chairman.

Shares of Viacom rose 2% to $29.11 and shares of CBS rose 1.8% to $48.91 after the merger was announced.

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