CBS, Viacom merger plan would put Viacom CEO in charge: report

CBS, Viacom merger plan would put Viacom CEO in charge: report
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CBS and Viacom have reportedly come to an agreement on the management team for its potential merger, removing a chief obstacle toward a deal between the two companies.

Under the agreement, reported by The Wall Street Journal, Viacom head Bob Bakish would serve as CEO of the combined company and Joe Ianniello, the acting chief executive of CBS, would oversee all of CBS-branded assets.

Ianniello has garnered praise for helping CBS navigate the storm following the departure of longtime CEO Les Moonves over sexual harassment and assault claims, the newspaper noted.

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The reported agreement also calls for Christina Spade, the chief financial officer of CBS, to become chief financial officer of the combined company.

Sources warned The Journal that CBS has yet to submit an official offer and that negotiations remain fluid. The timing of the deal is still unclear, but an agreement could be announced as early as the end of the month.

The exchange ratio for the two companies and the makeup of the combined group’s board are among the outstanding issues in the negotiations.

Viacom has emerged as the weaker of the two companies in recent years, after cable-TV cord-cutting helped lead to a decline in ratings for its major networks. CBS meanwhile has been bolstered by sports and some broadcast-TV hits. The merger would give Viacom greater scale and more leverage in negotiations with advertisers while CBS would be able to better reach a younger audience via channels like Nickelodeon and MTV.

The two groups have explored a merger three times in the past four years, according to The Journal.