CBS, Viacom reach merger agreement, reuniting a decade after split

Bob Bakish, Viacom president and CEO, will helm the newly formed company, named ViacomCBS.
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Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. inked a long-awaited deal to join forces Tuesday (Aug. 13) following days of speculation that negotiations to merge the National Amusements Inc.-owned media conglomerates were coming to a head.

The deal unites the companies’ portfolio of brands — including CBS, Showtime, Nickelodean, MTV, BET, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures — for the first time since Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements split the media giants in 2006.

Bob Bakish (pictured), Viacom president and CEO, will helm the newly formed company, named ViacomCBS Inc.

“Today marks an important day for CBS and Viacom, as we unite our complementary assets and capabilities and become one of only a few companies with the breadth and depth of content and reach to shape the future of our industry,” Bakish said in a statement. “As we look to the future, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities ahead for the combined company and all of our stakeholders – including consumers, the creative community, commercial partners, employees and, of course, our shareholders.”

Under the all-stock merger, existing CBS shareholders will own approximately 61% of the combined company and existing Viacom shareholders will own approximately 39% on a fully diluted basis. Viacom shareholders will receive 0.59625 of CBS shares for every Viacom share.

CBS president and acting CEO Joe Ianniello will become chairman and CEO of CBS. Shari Redstone, National Amusements president, will be appointed chair of the merged entity.

The leadership team of the combined company will include Christina Spade as EVP and chief financial officer and and Christa D’Alimonte as EVP, general counsel and secretary.

ViacomCBS’s board of directors will consist of 13 members: six independent members from CBS, four independent members from Viacom, the president and CEO of ViacomCBS and two National Amusements designees.

“I am really excited to see these two great companies come together so that they can realize the incredible power of their combined assets,” Redstone said in a statement. “My father once said ‘content is king,’ and never has that been more true than today. Through CBS and Viacom’s shared passion for premium content and innovation, we will establish a world-class, multiplatform media organization that is well-positioned for growth in a rapidly transforming industry.”

The tie-up comes months after CBS and Viacom established special committees to evaluate a potential merger in February 2018, two years after discussions resurfaced around reuniting the companies that first merged in 1999.

From Realscreen, Jillian Morgan