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Viacom ‘will keep Paramount’

Viacom is no longer looking actively to sell as stake in Paramount Pictures, according to a report by Bloomberg.

According to the news agency, citing unnamed sources, Viacom has decided that the movie studio is a key asset and has pulled back from the idea of a sale.

Viacom hired PJT Partners to look into a possible sale of a stake in Paramount in February, but the investment banking outfit is no longer working on the project, according to Bloomberg’s sources. However, the possibility of a sale remains open at a later date, according to the report.

Viacom’s board met last week to discuss the company’s budget and capital structure, but took no decision on whether to cut its dividend or take other measures to address the company’s liquidity, according to Bloomberg.

The sale of a 49% stake in Paramount to Chinese firm Dalian Wanda Group was a pet project of former Viacom CEO and president Philippe Dauman.

Dauman’s exit was confirmed by Viacom in August, with Tom Dooley taking over his duties on a temporary basis. However, as part of his departure settlement, Dauman secured the right to make the case for the Paramount sale to Viacom’s board.

Separately, on Thursday, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves told analysts and investors in New York that it was unlikely that his company would reunify with Viacom – which is believed to be another agenda item for Viacom’s board, with a number of investors favouring the idea that the pair should come back together.

Moonves said that CBS was happy to carry on as a standalone company, and that the company was not in active discussions on the topic.