CBS, Viacom form panels to explore potential merger

CBS, Viacom form panels to explore potential merger
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CBS Corp. and Viacom announced Thursday that the two companies are discussing a potential merger, a move that would reunite the companies that were split by founder Sumner Redstone more than a decade ago.

The two companies released similar statements announcing the formation of special committees to evaluate the possibility of a merger, but cautioned that there was no guarantee of a deal being reached.

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"There can be no assurance that this process will result in a transaction or on what terms any transaction may occur. Neither Viacom nor the Committee intends to comment further until the process is completed," Viacom's statement read.

Both companies also said they would not comment further until negotiations were completed.

Viacom and CBS previously explored a merger in 2016 at the behest of Redstone and his daughter, but no deal was reached.

Shari Redstone, the media mogul's daughter and business heir, has been involved in talks with the two companies since 2016, which intensified in December after the Walt Disney Co.'s purchase of a majority of 21st Century Fox's assets, Reuters reports.

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves and Viacom CEO Bob Bakish also reportedly held discussions related to a merger in January, the news service reports.

Shares of both companies' stock rose upon reports of the discussions, with Viacom rising 1.5 percent to $33.70 in after-hours trading and CBS rising 0.5 percent to $59.25.