CBS and Viacom confirm merger

The on-again, off-again reunification of CBS and Viacom has finally reached its end, with the companies announcing a definitive agreement to combine. 

The deal, struck on August 13, will create a company with more than US$28 billion (€25 billion) in revenue and boast the largest share of US TV audience of any broadcaster (22%).

In a statement, the company – ViacomCBS Inc. – said that it “will be a leading global, multiplatform, premium content company, with the assets, capabilities and scale to be one of the most important content producers and providers in the world.”

Gobally, the combined company will reach in excess of 4.3 billion cumulative TV subscribers and broadcast networks in more than 180 countries. 

The issued statement also defined the company’s three-part strategy for growth, focussing on accelerated direct-to-consumer efforts, enhanced distribution and advertising opportunities, and the licencing of premium content to third-party platforms globally. 

As previously reported, Viacom boss Bob Bakish will become president and CEO of the combined company. CBS president and acting CEO Joe Ianniello will become chairman and CEO of CBS, which remains its own entity focused on CBS-branded assets. 

Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish

Bakish said: “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. Our unique ability to produce premium and popular content for global audiences at scale – for our own platforms and for our partners around the world – will enable us to maximise our business for today, while positioning us to lead for years to come.”

Ianniello added: “This merger brings an exciting new set of opportunities to both companies. At CBS, we have outstanding momentum right now – creatively and operationally – and Viacom’s portfolio will help accelerate that progress. I look forward to all we will do together as we build on our ongoing success. And personally, I am pleased to remain focused on CBS’s top priority – continuing our transformation into a global, multiplatform, premium content company.” 

Shari Redstone, vice chair of the boards of directors, CBS and Viacom, said: “I am really excited to see these two great companies come together so that they can realize the incredible power of their combined assets. 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. Led by a talented leadership team that is excited by the future, ViacomCBS’s success will be underpinned by a commitment to strong values and a culture that empowers our exceptional people at all levels of the organisation.”  

In addition to Bakish and Ianniello, the leadership team of the combined company will include Christina Spade as EVP and chief financial officer; and Christa D’Alimonte as EVP, general counsel and secretary. 

The 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, Inc. (NAI) designees. Shari Redstone will be appointed Chair.

Bakish concluded: “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.”

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals, and is expected to close by the end of the year. 

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