Media powerhouses CBS and Viacom reach merger deal

CBS finally put a ring on it.

CBS and Viacom, which are owned by Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements, said they plan to merge, forming a larger media company run by Viacom boss Bob Bakish, who will grab the reins as president and CEO.

Joseph Ianniello, CBS current acting CEO, will continue to run the CBS’ assets, in his new role as chairman and CEO of CBS. He took over the interim job last year, after then chairman and CEO Les Moonves stepped down amid sexual misconduct allegations.

As part of the deal, the boards agreed on an exchange ratio of 0.59625 CBS share for every Viacom Class B share. Last year, CBS and Viacom came close to merging a year ago but a rift over who would run the combined company derailed talks. At the time, the boards agreed on an exchange ratio of 0.6135 CBS share for every Viacom Class B share. This came after Viacom nixed plans to merge with CBS in 2016.

Tuesday’s deal is no surprise to media types; the board of CBS has spent the better part of the year discussing strategic options for the company, including merging with Viacom. National Amusements heiress Shari Redstone, who serves as vice chairman of the boards of both media companies, has been pushing for the sister companies to reunite in order to compete with bigger rivals like Disney,
WarnerMedia, Netflix, Amazon and others.

In recent months, the CBS board, which includes a trove of new faces handpicked by Redstone, has mulled other options for the network. This includes buying Lionsgate or the movie studio’s premium cable network Starz.

The Post first reported that there has also been chatter that CBS has considered acquiring Take-Two, the gaming company run by CBS interim chairman Strauss Zelnick, as well as merging with Discovery Communications, or buying Sony Pictures or MGM. While another acquisition could come later, sources have said that the CBS-Viacom deal has always been Redstone’s top priority.

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