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CBS, Viacom merger set for December

The US$30bn merger of CBS and Viacom is expected to be completed by early December after it was approved by shareholders and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Bob Bakish

National Amusements, the Redstone family-controlled media company that has majority stakes in both CBS and Viacom, gave the green light to the merger earlier this week, while the SEC approved it late last week.

Once the merger is finalised, CBS will delist its shares from the New York Stock Exchange and the combined company will be known as ViacomCBS, trading on Nasdaq under the ticker symbols VIACA (for Class A shares) and VIAC (Class B). National Amusements controls the majority of the VIACA shares.

Shari Redstone, the daughter of National Amusements CEO Sumner Redstone, will become chair of ViacomCBS, overseeing the company on behalf of National Amusements.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish will hold the same position at the newly merged company, with CBS president and acting CEO Joe Ianniello overseeing the majority of CBS’s assets.

The merger continues the recent spate of super consolidation in the media landscape, following major deals between Disney and Fox, AT&T and Warner and, most recently, Banijay and Endemol Shine.

National Amusements previously attempted to combine the two companies on two separate occasions in 2016 and 2018. Merger talks restarted for a third time earlier this year.

The combined entity will generate more than US$28bn in revenue, according to CBS and Viacom, with a library of more than 140,000 TV episodes and more than 3,600 movies. It will also have more than 750 series ordered or in production, with a content spend of US$13bn in the past 12 months.

The merger will see CBS, Showtime and CBS All Access combined with Viacom’s cable channels, which include Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and BET, as well as its movie studio Paramount Pictures.

CBS’s other assets include The CW, its US network joint venture with Warner Bros Entertainment, plus Network 10 in Australia, CBS Television Studios, CBS Global Distribution Group, Pop and Smithsonian.

Viacom also owns Channel 5 in the UK, Telefe in Argentina and Colors in India, the latter via its partnership with TV18, as well as AVoD service Pluto TV.


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