During a town hall with employees Wednesday, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish praised workers for their “hard work turning around Viacom” and promised to keep them informed about the merger with CBS, attendees said.
Viacom and CBS formally announced their long-awaited, $30 billion, all-stock combination on Tuesday. Bakish spoke to employees gathered in New York and also watching via livestream. According to those in attendance, the tenor of the special edition of the “Bob Live” sessions the executive holds quarterly was upbeat. While employees are eager to hear more about the direction of things, Bakish returned to familiar themes he has struck often in recent days about the combined company’s war chest of branded properties and increased scope.
Bakish will become president and CEO of ViacomCBS after the close of the deal, which is expected by the end of the year.
Earlier Wednesday, Bakish appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box in an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin.
“You can argue the third time’s the charm,” Bakish said, according to a network transcript, describing the three rounds of formal deal talks in the past three years. “We started this discussion at the end of ’16 when I was acting CEO of Viacom. Then, it was revisited again about a year and a half later. And this time, yesterday, we announced we’re putting the two companies together.”
Sorkin asked if Joe Ianniello, the acting CBS CEO who will become chairman and CEO of CBS of the new company, will collect $70 million because he didn’t become CEO of the combined entity. “Look, you can look at the public filings and all,” Bakish replied. “We are thrilled to be moving forward together. We are going to create a lot of value here. And we can’t wait to get on with it. … His contract is what his contract is.”
Wednesday turned out to be unkind to Viacom stock, which fell 8.5% (CBS shares also dropped 8%) on an overall rough day for the stock market.