Could the third time be the charm for CBS and Viacom? The CBS board is preparing to begin merger talks with Viacom starting next month, according to a Thursday morning report from CNBC citing unnamed sources “familiar with situation.”
Viacom chief Bob Bakish would “likely” run the new company if a merger were to go through, according to the report. Shari Redstone, the vice chairwoman of Viacom and CBS, has pushed to combine the companies twice in recent years but run into roadblocks each time.
CBS declined to comment to TheWrap and reps for Redstone and Viacom did not immediately respond.
Earlier this year, analysts told TheWrap a merger is more likely in 2019 now that one of the chief obstacles to the long-proposed deal — former CBS CEO and chairman Les Moonves — is out of the picture following his firing for cause late last year after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.
Since the idea of a merger began gaining traction in 2016, Moonves all but launched a corporate and legal siege to block any attempts to combine the two companies by Shari Redstone’s National Amusements Inc., the privately held family firm that controls roughly 80 percent of the voting power in both companies (which had split into separate companies in 2005).
Viacom shares jumped more than 6% in early morning trading on Thursday, to $34.50 per share, on the CNBC report, while CBS increased about 3%, to $48 per share.