CBS Corp. and Viacom appear to have moved closer to a merger, with the CBS Corp. board of directors inching toward initiating talks, Variety reports, citing multiple sources close to the situation.
“The move has been expected for months, although there may still be obstacles on the road to a reunion for the two sides of the Redstone media empire,” Variety reports, noting that price remains a possible sticking point.
“People close to the matter said CBS views Viacom as having a host of troubled assets including low-profile cable channels that are endangered species in a skinny bundle world,” Variety reports. “But Viacom believes it is in a much stronger position than it was this time last year, when the sides last made a fitful attempt at merger talks.”
The report adds: “The strongest signal of the movement toward a recombination of the companies that were joined from 2000 through 2006 was CBS’ decision on Tuesday to call off its search for a permanent CEO.”
As we reported Tuesday, Joseph Ianniello, who has been CBS Corp.’s president and acting CEO since September, extended his contract, which was set to expire in June, through Dec. 31.
Variety notes that the departure of longtime CBS Corp. Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves back in September amid sexual assault allegations has a lot to do with prospects for a merger.
“A big hurdle the last time around was a dispute over the management configuration for the combined company,” Variety notes. “With Moonves out of the picture, those concerns are seen as less of an issue now. It is believed that Viacom president-CEO Bob Bakish is in the ‘pole position’ to lead the combined entity.”