CBS and Viacom Finalize Merger

NEW YORK—After multiple reports that a merger was on the horizon, CBS and Viacom have officially announced a finalized agreement that will combine the two companies once again after initially splitting in 2006. The combined company will go by ViacomCBS Inc.

As previously reported, Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom, will serve in the same position for the combined company. CBS’ president and acting CEO Joe Ianniello will now have the title of chairman and CEO of CBS, where his responsibility will be to oversee all CBS-branded assets. Other leadership positions will be occupied by Christina Spade as executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Christa D’Alimonte as EVP, general counsel and secretary. Shari Redstone, who served as vice chair for both companies, will now be the chair of ViacomCBS Inc.

“Today marks an important day for CBS and Viacom, as we unite our complementary assets and capabilities and become one of only a few companies with the breadth and depth of content and reach to shape the future of our industry,” said Bakish in the company’s official press release.

“My father [Summer Redstone] once said ‘content is king,’ and never has that been more true than today,” said Redstone. “Through CBS and Viacom’s shared passion for premium content and innovation, we will establish a world-class, multiplatform media organization that is well-positioned for growth in a rapidly transforming industry.”

ViacomCBS Inc. now houses CBS, CBS Sports, CBS News, Showtime, Comedy Central, BET, MTV, the Paramount Network, Ten Australia, Nickelodeon, CBS All Access, 5, Pop, PlutoTV, the CW and Paramount Studios. According to the company’s release, ViacomCBS has a 22% share of the U.S. TV audience; production capabilities across five continents; a library of more than 140,000 premium TV episodes and 3,600 films; and a global reach of more than 4.3 billion cumulative TV subscribers across more than 180 countries.

Moving forward, the company has devised a three-part growth strategy that includes accelerating its direct-to-consumer strategy; enhancing distribution and advertising opportunities; and to create a leading producer and licensor of premium content to third-party platforms globally.

The merger is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, but the company expects the transaction to close by the end of 2019. It also forecasts that the merger will offer $500 million in cost savings within the first two years of closing.