In parallel SEC filings, the companies amended their merger agreement from August, saying that when their merger closes, the combined company’s shares will trade under the ticker symbols VIACA and VIAC. National Amusements controls the majority of Class A (VIACA) shares. VIAC is the symbol for common shares held by other investors. CBS shares have long traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
No update was provided on exactly when the $30 billion, all-stock deal will close, though management has consistently estimated it will wrap by the end of 2019. The transaction culminates years of on-again, off-again talks to reunite the companies, which operated under the same corporate tent from 2000 to 2006.
While the main news item out of the SEC document is the listing on the Nasdaq and the ticker symbols, the filing runs to hundreds of pages and details some of the blow-by-blow of the merger talks. While kremlinologists of the House of Redstone will undoubtedly uncover a few intriguing details, the merger has widely been perceived on Wall Street as long overdue.
When the companies first began formal talks in 2015, Disney had not bought Fox, AT&T had not gobbled up Time Warner, and ditto for Discovery and Scripps, Lionsgate and Starz, Nexstar and Tribune, and on and on. While certainly more formidable as a merged entity, ViacomCBS will still be a fraction of the size of media peers like Comcast and Disney, not to mention tech rivals like Netflix or even larger giants like Apple and Amazon.
Haggling over price and management — the same sticking points that derailed previous rounds of formal talks — kept things dragging on over last summer, the SEC filing indicates.