The news outlet said Thursday that the board of CBS — whose directors were re-elected on Wednesday at the company’s annual meeting — is preparing to hold the talks in mid-June. Two previous go-rounds in recent years were derailed by differences between CBS and its controlling shareholder, National Amusements
All three companies declined to comment to Deadline about the report. Shares in both CBS and Viacom are up more than 2% and 4%, respectively, in Thursday trading.
Under a legal settlement between NAI and CBS to resolve dueling lawsuits filed last year, NAI cannot initiate merger discussions in its role as a controlling shareholder. The companies’ boards are free to do so, and Wall Street has expected the companies to go back under a common roof, as they were from 2000-2006. As the companies have operated independently in recent years, a wave of consolidation has seen Disney buy most of 21st Century Fox and AT&T acquire Time Warner in just two of many M&A transactions.
As tech companies continue to disrupt the traditional marketplace, media companies have only recently made major investments to stem the tide. CBS and Viacom as a single entity could then become attractive to an even bigger company hungry for content or distribution assets, or even be able to pull off other moves. Lionsgate recently had discussions with CBS about a possible sale of Starz for at least $5 billion, a deal that would enhance the programming and streaming resources of CBS and Viacom.
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