Moonves and his counterpart at Time Warner, Jeff Bewkes, discussed the idea of combining their companies in meetings last year, three people with knowledge of the matter said. Bewkes wasn’t interested, said two of the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions were private.
CBS’s CEO is weighing options as controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone takes a less active role. His alternatives also include doing nothing, reuniting with Viacom Inc. or taking CBS private.
Redstone is 91 and when he dies his empire will be overseen by a five-member trust that doesn’t include CBS’s CEO.
Moonves has made clear CBS should command a premium, and that bids “had better start with $100” a share, or almost $50 billion. Time Warner could offer $80, Bank of America Corp. analyst Jessica Reif Cohen said in a March 2 note.
“I don’t see any way that we consolidate in the near or distant future unless it’s under terms that are really favorable to us,” Moonves, a 20-year CBS veteran, said last week at a Deutsche Bank investor conference.
With the Redstone era winding down, some investors have called for CBS and Viacom to reunite.
Moonves, 65, doesn’t see Viacom as a strategic fit, one of the people said. He has considered buying New York-based CBS with the help of partners, the New York Post reported last month.
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