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Viacom, CBS to explore reunification of the two media giants

Boards say move does not guarantee a merger will occur

Sumner Redstone
Redstone family squabble drags on

Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ:VIAB) and CBS Corp. (NYSE:CBS) have taken the first step toward a possible reunification of the two media companies that split apart in 2005.

In separate but nearly identical statements issued late Thursday, both companies’ boards announced the formation of special committees to evaluate a potential combination.

No guarantee of a merger

But both companies tempered the news by also saying that the process does not guarantee a transaction will in fact occur.

The move is the latest in an ongoing power struggle between billionaire media mogul Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari, who controls both CBS and Viacom via National Amusements Inc., which is privately held.

A previous attempt at reunification in 2016 failed when CBS CEO Les Moonves expressed concerns over the deal’s value for shareholders.

Shares of the two media giants were flat in premarket trading Friday.

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