ViacomCBS to Sell Publisher Simon and Schuster

Bob Bakish says company has seen “no material effect to date” from coronavirus

Bob Bakish
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

ViacomCBS will look to offload its Simon & Schuster publishing unit, Bob Bakish said Wednesday during an investor conference.

“We’ll engage in a process and look at strategic alternatives for Simon & Schuster,” the ViacomCBS CEO said during the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco. He added that the publishing unit “is not a core asset. It is not video-based. It does not have significant connection for our broader business.”

The publishing company founded in 1924 by Richard Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. Viacom acquired Simon & Schuster in 1994 as part of its acquisition of Paramount Communications. It went with CBS Corp. after Sumner Redstone split the two companies in 2006.

In regards to the fears over the spread of coronavirus, Bakish said ViacomCBS has seen “no material effect to date” other than having to move the release date for “Sonic The Hedgehog” in some Asian markets. “Conceptually, the broader media industry on a relative basis is probably less exposed that other sectors and ViacomCBS is less exposed relative to some of its competitors,” he said.

ViacomCBS is coming off a rough first earnings quarter since re-combing last year, not only missing Wall Street estimates but also posting a loss.