“People with knowledge of the matter” have made it known to Bloomberg that CBS Corp. “is preparing to make an initial merger proposal to Viacom within days.”
If this is indeed true, it would begin negotiations between the two cousin companies that could reunify the entities — bringing to an end speculation about a recombination of Viacom and CBS Corp. that has failed to cease for more than a year.
The proposal, Bloomberg says, is being drafted by CBS’s independent board committee and will be dispatched to the independent board committee for Viacom. What the valuation is, and who will take key leadership positions in the combined entity, is likely first on the list of what to iron out, people who didn’t want to be identified told Bloomberg.
Neither CBS nor Viacom have commented on reports of a reunification some 12 years after National Amusements, the Redstone family-led operation that has majority control of CBS and Viacom, split the operations apart.
With CBS Radio now under Entercom ownership and digital media eating away at cable television, the return of Viacom under the CBS umbrella would reinforce its presence in television, with cable and broadcast operations and a strong OTT presence all housed under the same corporate entity.
When could a combination of CBS and Viacom come? Bloomberg‘s unnamed sources say a deal could come before each company announces its Q1 2018 results, in May.
CBS and Viacom first explored a potential combination in September 2016, something by asked for Shari Redstone. By 2017, any reunification was off the table, with Ms. Redstone simply stating that it was “not the right time to merge the companies.”