ViacomCBS Lays Off Staff Across the Board as Part of Merger

CEO Bob Bakish sent a letter to staff on Wednesday reassuring them, “we are focused on making their transitions easier at this time”

Last Updated: April 29, 2020 @ 6:25 PM

ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish sent an email to staff on Wednesday after the company laid off people across the organization. The cuts total at least 100 employees, including top execs such as Smithsonian Network President Tom Hayden and Comedy Central head of content and creative enterprises Sarah Babineau.

The newly merged company is still in the midst of cutting costs and streamlining its business following the tie-up between Viacom and CBS. It’s unclear, however, how precisely many people were let go. In late February, ViacomCBS announced plans with New York state to lay off 117 East Coast staffers across 11 divisions.

ViacomCBS did not comment beyond Bakish’s memo to staff.

“Even before the coronavirus pandemic, we were already in a period of significant change to integrate our newly combined company – work that is helping us weather this crisis, creatively adapt and strengthen the resiliency of our business,” Bakish wrote. “It’s critical that we continue these efforts to integrate and evolve ViacomCBS to remain competitive now and for the future.  This means continuing to integrate and streamline our operations, manage our costs as diligently as we can, and follow through on our committed post-merger synergy targets.

“Some of us are saying goodbye to incredible team members and friends – people who have made lasting contributions to the success of our company and have enriched our culture,” Bakish continued. “I want to assure you that we are focused on making their transitions easier at this time, while supporting the needs of all our employees and their families.”

Staffers at ViacomCBS owned outlets MTV News and LogoTV on Wednesday tweeted about being laid off, including LogoTV editorial director Matthew Breen.

Viacom and CBS announced their long-awaited merger, valuing the combined company at roughly $12 billion, last summer. The company said it expects to have $750 million in synergy savings by getting rid of overlapping corporate operations and other savings.

The company also recently said it was looking to unload its publishing arm Simon & Schuster, with Baskish saying at the time that it “is not a core asset. It is not video-based. It does not have significant connection for our broader business.”

ViacomCBS, like many companies, is also weathering the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In March, in attempts to cushion the financial blow brought by the pandemic, ViacomCBS raised $2.5 billion after agreeing to sell two separate debt notes, both with a total value of $1.25 billion each.

Read Bakish’s full memo to ViacomCBS staff below:

Team,

I know these past weeks have been challenging, and have forced us to deal with major disruptions in our personal and professional lives.  And I know that even before the coronavirus pandemic, we were already in a period of significant change to integrate our newly combined company – work that is helping us weather this crisis, creatively adapt and strengthen the resiliency of our business.

As I said at our last Bob Live, however, it’s critical that we continue these efforts to integrate and evolve ViacomCBS to remain competitive now and for the future.  This means continuing to integrate and streamline our operations, manage our costs as diligently as we can, and follow through on our committed post-merger synergy targets.

Throughout this transformation, we want to be as supportive of our employees as possible, particularly given the circumstances we’re in.  Some of us are saying goodbye to incredible team members and friends – people who have made lasting contributions to the success of our company and have enriched our culture.  I want to assure you that we are focused on making their transitions easier at this time, while supporting the needs of all our employees and their families.

I realize you may have questions, and I look forward to answering them, and providing another update on our progress at Bob Live shortly after we report earnings next week.

In the meantime, thank you for your continued hard work and focus, and for everything you do to make our company better for our audiences, partners and communities around the world.

Please stay healthy and safe.

Best,
Bob

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