Former CBS CEO Joe Ianniello Launches SPAC, Eyes Media Deals

Joseph R. Ianniello, Chief Operating Officer, CBS Corporation. Photo: John Paul Filo/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. John Paul Filo/CBS

Former longtime CBS executive Joseph Ianniello has launched a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, with a handful of former colleagues to scout for acquisitions in media, entertainment and sports.

Called Argus Capital Corp, the firm filed with the SEC on Thursday to raise up to $300 million, offering 30 million units at $10. Ianniello is chairman and CEO of the group, headquartered at Columbus Circle in NYC.

Ianniello was most recently CEO of CBS Entertainment Group and had served as acting chief executive of CBS prior to its merger with Viacom. He’s joined by Argus president and vice chairman Marc DeBevoise, who was most recently CEO of ViacomCBS Digital.

Other familiar names in the media space include Dana McClintock as communications chief and Kelli Rafferty as chief marketing officer.

Alan Mnuchin, founder and CEO of Ariliam Group, an investment and strategic consulting firm, and brother of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, is a director. Outfront Media executive and longtime entertainment investment banker Andrew Sriubas is too.

The idea as with other SPACs is to leverage management’s combined expertise and target the media, entertainment, and sports industry, including “‘over-the-top’ digital streaming, mobile gaming/interactive entertainment, digital media including advertising/marketing technology, health and wellness/lifestyle, live events/experiential consumer-facing technology, and related industries,” the registration statement said.

Ianniello and DeBevoise have “established global relationships and has extensive experience in identifying and executing proprietary strategic investments in these sectors.”

SPACs, also called “blank check” companies, cultivate investors based on the strength their management team and vision, go public and target other companies to buy who then become public automatically as well without having to launch an initial public offering, or IPO. The number of SPACs have multiplied exponentially over the past year. In media, BuzzFeed most recently merged last month with a SPAC. Digital publisher Group Nine Media launched its own SPAC.

Argus said its “themes of interest include the digital transformation of well-known media brands, the production and distribution of premium content, the ability to enrich consumer experiences through interactive platforms, the launch and growth of subscription businesses that build off the strength and scale of media assets, the creation of live experiences and transformative events in the worlds of sports, lifestyle/fitness and digital media, among several others, the advancement of local media assets navigating political changes, and the global licensing of domestic content,” the SEC filing said.

Argus Capital plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol ARGUU.

Ianniello became acting CEO of CBS after Les Moonves was ousted on sexual abuse allegations. The Viacom-CBS merger closed in late 2019 and Ianniello left shortly after, walking away with a $125 million package.

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