Broadcasting giant CBS, looking to replace its disgraced ex-chief executive Les Moonves, has been telling leading job candidates that it’s looking for somebody who can run not only CBS but also Viacom if the two companies are merged, The NYPost is reporting.
In September, National Amusements — the holding company owned by ailing billionaire Sumner Redstone that controls both CBS and Viacom through its majority stakes — agreed in a settlement not to approach CBS for two years about a merger with Viacom, the media giant that owns Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV and Paramount Pictures.
The new CBS board is expected to do just that as soon as this month, with ambitions to close a deal by March or April — and possibly announce a permanent CEO for the combined companies along with a merger, sources briefed on the talks said.
“Shari [Redstone] had indicated twice in the past she wanted a merger but Les was in the way,” a source who knows Redstone well said. “[Interim CEO] Joe Ianniello is a terrific guy but he doesn’t have the standing to do anything but cooperate.”
.Reports that Disney’s ex-operating chief, Thomas Staggs, is the runaway favorite are premature, according to sources. Other leading contenders include ex-Time Warner execs John Martin and Olaf Olafsson, and Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner, sources said.
Another possibility, according to one source, is Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, a favorite of Redstone who has won praise for his recent progress on a turnaround.