Shari Redstone once again eyeing a merger of CBS and Viacom

Jeannie Matthews
January 13, 2018

Sources told CNBC that no offer has been made and that no bankers have been hired.

"There are no active talks between the parties, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing private information", Bloomberg notes.

In September 2016, Redstone had pushed for the two companies to recombine - only to back down after being persuaded by CBS Chairman Les Moonves to let both companies operate separately.

Shari Redstone, vice chair of the board at CBS and non-executive vice chair of the board at Viacom, was reportedly looking to reunite the two media giants, according to an initial report from entertainment outlet TheWrap, citing multiple inside sources. But no concrete steps in that direction have been taken, the sources said.

Shari Redstone and her 94-year-old father, Sumner, own National Amusements Inc., which in turn controls 80 percent of CBS' and Viacom's voting shares.

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Redstone was not immediately available for comment.

The reunion talks were restarted because Moonves "is now open to the possibility" of merging the two media companies, according to The Wrap, which first reported on rekindled re-merger talks.

With major competitors such as Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Inc. getting bigger through multibillion-dollar deals, pressure is building on Viacom and CBS to bulk up. The two companies underwent a rigorous review before calling things off in 2016. Shares in Viacom closed at $33.76, up 9.57% for the day.

BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield, in a January 8 report, went so far as to accuse CBS and Viacom of dragging their feet on a merger - claiming that "aggregate value has been destroyed over the past year of waiting to recombine the two companies". Viacom and CBS initially merged in 1999. But as recently as past year, Shari Redstone said that a merger would have squashed Viacom's "momentum".

CBS stock closed up almost 2%, or $1.05 to $58.83 a share.

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