Viacom, CBS Discontinue Merger Talks

National Amusements, which has a controlling stake in both the CBS Corporation and Viacom, has requested that both companies’ board of directors discontinue their exploration of a potential merger.

April 6, 2018

Viacom, CBS Discontinue Merger Talks

Viacom also announced that acting president and CEO Bob Bakish would take on the role permanently.


Following several months of investigation, National Amusements has concluded that this is not the right time to merge CBS and Viacom and has directed the boards to focus on their independent paths forward.

“Following the management changes that the Viacom Board put in place, we have been very impressed with the forward-looking, -thinking and -strategic plan being pursued under Bob Bakish’s leadership. We know Viacom has tremendous assets that are currently undervalued, and we are confident that with this new strong management team, the value of these assets can be unleashed,” says Sumner Redstone, chief executive

officer, and Shari Redstone, president, National Amusements, in a letter to the boards. “At the same time, CBS continues to perform exceptionally well under Les Moonves, and we have every reason to believe that momentum will continue on a stand-alone basis.”

In terms of licensing, Nickelodeon, which is a division of Viacom, is the world’s 9th largest licensor with $5.5 billion in licensed retail sales in 2015. Paramount Pictures, which is also a division of Viacom, is No. 122 with $172 million and CBS is No. 88 with $300 million, according to 



’s annual Top 150 Global Licensors report.

Additionally, the merger would have reunited the two companies following their split in 2005.

Meanwhile, Viacom announced that Bakish will take on the role of president and CEO full time.

“In Bob’s short time as acting president and CEO he has impressed the board of directors with the decisive steps he has taken,” says Tom May, chairman of the board, Viacom. “He has moved quickly to deliver upon the mandate given to him–to maximize Viacom’s potential as a strong, growing and independent company. We have great confidence in Bob’s strategic vision and his ability to move forward aggressively to position Viacom for the future.”

Bakish has served as 

acting president and CEO since Nov. 15

 and has held a number of leadership positions throughout the organization since joining in 1997. He most recently served as president and chief executive officer of Viacom International Media Networks prior to his acting CEO role.

“I am very excited by the strategy Viacom is pursuing under Bob’s leadership, as well as the relentless hard work and passion he has demonstrated not only in his fast start at the helm but in his many years at the company,” says Shari Redstone, vice chair of the board, Viacom. “While there is much work to do, I firmly believe that Viacom has a bright future, and that confidence is underpinned by senior management’s commitment to innovation and a more coordinated, global approach to managing our brands.”

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