CBS CEO Les Moonves had talks with Time Warner chief executive Jeff Bewkes last year about a possible merger of the two companies, according to a report by Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources. However, the discussions came to nothing because Bewkes was not interested in a combination, according to the report.
Moonves’ reported overtures to Time Warner come as the CBS chief weighs his options for the post-Sumner Redstone era. On the 91 year-old Redstone’s death, control of both CBS and Viacom, which split from CBS in 2006, will pass to a five-member trust that includes Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and Redstone’s daughter Shari, but not Moonves. However, the CBS board, headed by Moonves, is expected to have a major say in the strategic direction of the company.
In February, against the background of speculation about a possible CBS tie-up with Viacom, Moonves told analysts that he believed CBS stock would appreciate over the next few years and the company did not need to seek a merger. Moonves was earlier reported by the New York Post to have discussed a possible buyout of CBS with investors.
According to Bloomberg, the discussions with Bewkes followed Rupert Murdoch’s abortive bid to buy Time Warner. Bewkes said at the time that he was happy to keep Time Warner independent.