CBS and Viacom have announced their plans to merge. It won’t be a merge specifically, but a re-merge, let’s say, since CBS first spun off Viacom in the ’70s, the companies have already got back together once, then separated again. The latest merger comes in the context of a push for scale across the media and entertainment industry, especially in the field of streaming space. Shari Redstone is set to be the chairman of the merged entity. She has already controlled both companies through her family’s company, National Amusements. Bob Bakish will be the CEO of the combined entity. He is currently in charge at Viacom. The new company will reportedly be called ViacomCBS.
Viacom CBS and it’s hurdles
There have been plenty of obstacles on the road to the merger. After CBS and Viacom last separated, in 2006, National Amusements was roiled by a messy family-succession saga. Since then, Les Moonves, one of the leaders at CBS, vigorously opposed Redstone’s push to merge the companies.
CBS even sued Redstone last year, alleging that she was trying to force a deal on unfavorable terms. However afterward, Moonves resigned as CBS chairman and CEO. Reportedly, 12 women told The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow that Moonves sexually abused them. CBS then fired Moonves and yanked his severance. Even with Moonves gone, the path to a deal was difficult. A legal settlement imposed conditions on future merger moves, including the acquiescence of two-thirds of CBS’s independent directors. Joe Ianniello, who was Moonves’s interim replacement, also brought with him a history of opposition to the deal.
The deal has not yet done with its obstacles
The CBS–Viacom merger news will reportedly stay in the headlines for quite some time to come. It will need to clear regulators. Experts suspect that shareholders might throw obstacles in the way. According to reports, the biggest independent holder of voting stock in both companies already warned that his lawyers are at work. It seems that executing the deal is surely going to be a messy business. It’s not clear now whether the companies are a good match or not culturally as turf battles could ensue as they work out how to team up and even staff from the executive level on down could quit. The new company plans to save at least $500 million in dreaded synergies.