Media analysts and the entertainment industry aren’t the only ones paying attention to the recent CBS-Viacom merger. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, has weighed in on the merger, Tweeting that the Department of Justice “should be paying close attention.”
Combining TV programming like NCIS, The Daily Show and Billions under one company isn’t enough in 2019 to compete with other big media companies.
Viacom CEO Bob Bakish will become CEO of the combined company, ViacomCBS. Acting CBS CEO Joe Ianniello will become chairman and CEO of the CBS division. The deal is an all-stock transaction. The companies say the combined company will have $28 billion in revenue.
CBS and Viacom are inching closer to a deal that would join the onetime siblings after a three-year dance. But whether the reunion will solve their problems or simply kick them down the road remains one of the media world’s biggest questions.
As media giants gird for battle with Netflix and Amazon, CBS and Viacom continue to pursue marginally more patient streaming strategies, gaining steady ground without spending their way into trouble. Now, as the companies prepare finally to consummate a merger that has been many years in the making, they stand to become a bulked-up media player with arguably the industry’s most diversified streaming portfolio.
Board members of CBS and Viacom worked most of the weekend in an effort to reach a long-awaited merger agreement for the two halves of the Redstone media empire. Sources close to the situation said the sides have made progress since Friday in hashing out some of the final details in the tie-up between the media conglomerates that are both controlled by the Redstone family’s National Amusements holding company. An agreement in principle could be announced as early as today.
CBS and Viacom reported earnings on Thursday — and refused to discuss what everyone wanted to know: the status of their merger plans. Despite the dearth of details, sources with direct knowledge of the deal said the merger could be announced within days. Holding up the process are negotiations over the exchange ratio, or the number of new shares that will be given to shareholders of a company that is being acquired — in this case, Viacom, they said.
CBS and Viacom continue to bob along with merger talks and are now circling Aug. 8 as an internal deadline to agree to a deal, according to people familiar with the matter. While a transaction could be announced sooner — or later — than that, CBS and Viacom happen to share Aug. 8 as the day both companies report second-quarter earnings. That makes it a natural goal post for a merger that’s been speculated about for more than a year, the people said.
Viacom is awaiting a response from CBS to the acquisition counteroffer that Viacom submitted last week. CBS executives and bankers were said to be huddling Wednesday and Thursday to hammer out a new offer. Details are still sketchy but it’s believed that CBS will raise the valuation of Viacom up from its opening March 30 offer, which came in around $12 billion. CBS is not expected to budge on the issue of keeping CBS chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves’ current top executive team intact.
Leslie Moonves is open to merging CBS and Viacom — on his terms — but Shari Redstone, eager for power, may be ready to sacrifice Hollywood’s most celebrated exec to chart her own path.