The on-again, off-again CBS/Viacom merger looks to be entering its final stages, with the companies reportedly agreeing upon a management team that will lead the merged business.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Viacom boss Bob Bakish will be the CEO of a newly combined company, with acting CBS CEO Joe Ianniello set to be offered a job overseeing all CBS-branded assets.
Ianniello has been key in driving up distribution fees received from cable and satellite operations and has been a vocal advocate of CBS’s direct-to-consumer streaming efforts. He took over the role from CEO Leslie Moonves, who left the position in September 2018 following multiple accusations of sexual harassment and assault.
Ianniello’s contract details that he is eligible for $70m should he not be named the permanent CEO of CBS.
CBS chief financial officer Christina Spade is set to continue in this position for the combined company.
It is currently unclear whether Viacom CFO Wade Davis will remain at the company, with the working agreement calling for no chief operating officer role. Davis is responsible for Viacom’s ad-sales strategy.
Despite a management structure appearing in place, the report also claims that CBS is yet to submit a formal offer for Viacom, with negotiations still “fluid”. That said, the report says a deal could be announced by the end of August.
Currently, outstanding issues are the exchange ratio for the two companies and the make-up of the board – with the latter reportedly being agreed upon as detailed above.
This is the third time in four years that CBS and Viacom have explored a merger, following failed attempts in 2016 and 2018. Both media giants are owned by US-based National Amusements, which is controlled by the Redstone family.
MTV and Comedy Central operator Viacom previously acquired Showtime owner CBS almost 20 years ago but the takeover failed, with the companies subsequently splitting up six years later.