Thursday, May 31, 2018

Report: Redstone Wants To Sell Combined Company

Investors in CBS and Viacom may be growing fretful and they have good reason, according to The Wall Street Journal.

 On Tuesday, Shari Redstone and her family holding company, National Amusements, sued CBS, countering the angry lawsuit CBS filed against Ms. Redstone and National Amusements two weeks ago.

The back-and-forth legal attacks have plunged both companies into uncertainty and paralyzed any deal-making.

In a little-noted part of the complaint filed on Tuesday, National Amusements made it clear that a deal between CBS and Viacom isn’t actually the final goal. The merger, it suggests, would be the precursor to a sale, “better positioning the companies for a larger transaction in which the combined entity could fetch an attractive premium that neither CBS nor Viacom alone could command.”

The latest lawsuit says Ms. Redstone and National Amusements “are open to eventually relinquishing NAI’s voting control” if there was a deal.

As recently as 2012, Sumner Redstone, Ms. Redstone’s father, insisted he would never sell Viacom or CBS, and that his estate planning precludes the trust from selling the family’s controlling interest “unless they start doing terribly, which they will not.”

The Redstone family’s departure from the media and entertainment business would represent the second potential exit of a powerful media family, triggered by a pressured industry and an aging mogul. Last December, Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, agreed to sell key parts of his empire to Disney in a $52.4 billion deal.

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