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CBS and Viacom Inch Closer to Merger With Preliminary Deal on New Leadership Team (Report)

The Wrap Friday, 2 August 2019
CBS and Viacom have reached a “working” agreement on the management structure in the event the two companies complete their long-awaited merger.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish would take over as CEO of the newly-combined company while Joe Ianniello, who has served as acting CEO for CBS since last September, would be offered a senior role overseeing brand assets, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ continued that a deal could be reached by the end of the month.

CBS declined to comment, while a representative for Viacom did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

*Also Read:* CBS-Viacom Set Informal Deadline for Potential Merger (Report)

In addition to ironing out the two key roles, the WSJ reported that CBS and Viacom have agreed that CBS Chief Financial Officer Christina Spade would become CFO for the combined company. It’s unclear what that would mean for Viacom CFO Wade Davis’s position, or whether he would stay or not.

No formal offer has been made, however, by CBS to acquire Viacom. Both companies are set to report quarterly earnings next week, and Wall Street is sure to be looking for insight into what to expect in terms of the long-anticipated merger.

When CBS extended an offer to buyout Viacom in April of 2018 — below Viacom’s market value — who would sit at the top of the combined company was one of the major sticking points.

*Also Read:* CBS and Viacom Merger Talks: What's Changed and Who Stands to Benefit Most?

That dispute led to a nasty tug-of-war between Shari Redstone, who owns roughly 80% of both CBS and Viacom through her family holding company National Amusements, and then-CBS CEO Les Moonves, who wanted Ianiello positioned as his heir apparent within the combined company.

After a lengthy public spat between the two, Moonves was eventually forced to step down following multiple accusations of sexual assault and harassment against him, which is when Ianiello took over as acting CEO.

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