The future of the Redstone family’s $40 billion media empire, which includes CBS and Viacom, appears to be in the hands of Leslie Moonves. The Los Angeles Times reports that Moonves “holds the keys” to the Redstones’ kingdom.
“The charismatic chairman and chief executive of CBS Corp. has emerged as the choice of controlling shareholders Shari and Sumner Redstone to lead a reunified CBS and Viacom Inc. — should the companies agree to merge,” The Times reports. “But can Moonves fix what ails Viacom, which is wrestling with falling ratings at its cable channels MTV and Comedy Central and box-office duds from Paramount Pictures?”
The report notes that Moonves, 67, “has strong credentials: an illustrious career in broadcast television, a forceful personality and a track record of reviving struggling businesses. But industry analysts note that even someone of Moonves’ pedigree might find it tough to turn around Viacom at a time of upheaval in the media industry.”
The article quotes Laura Martin, a managing director of Needham & Co., saying: “Les and his team can do it, but it will be a daunting task. And Wall Street is underestimating the amount of time it will take to clean up the breadth of the mess at Viacom.”
The story notes that executives and advisers have been going over the logistics of a reunification of Viacom and CBS since the Redstone family asked the boards of the two companies to explore the possibility late last month.
“One hurdle is structuring a deal that does not punish rank-and-file shareholders of CBS, which is the more prosperous company,” The Times notes. “A decision on whether to go forward with a merger is expected by early November.”
We encourage readers to click on the link to The Times near the top of this story to read the paper’s in-depth analysis.