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CBS Suspends CEO Search, Leading to More Rumors That a Merger With Viacom’s Coming Soon

Nick Dimengo

The CBS Corporation made the decision to suspend its search for a new, permanent CEO, meaning the company will extend the tenure of the acting CEO, Joe Ianniello, through the end of the year, according to Bloomberg. The news of the decision by the CBS Corporation fuels rumors that the company is in talks with Viacom on a merger, with the move today buying more time for the two media conglomerates enough time to try and see a deal come to fruition.

Ianniello took over as CEO on an interim basis in September 2018, and, while the CBS Corporation had been looking for a new leader over the past several months, the board had debated whether or not pursuing a merger, acquisition or sale made more sense. Ultimately, this gives the corporate heads a little more time to decipher a roadmap towards what’s best for CBS in the long run.

CBS owns the most-watch broadcast network in the United States, as well as the premium cable network Showtime, but is small in comparison to many of its peers, who have all bulked up through deals of their own. For example, NBC is owned by the Comcast Corporation — worth about 10 times what CBS is — and ABC is owned by Disney, which is worth about 12 times more than the CBS Corporation currently is. With Disney paying $71 billion for the entertainment rights to 21st Century FOX, it seems as if the announcement today is an earlier indicator that the CBS Corporation and Viacom are giving themselves a six-month window to close the next media mega-deal.

Time will tell what today’s latest news ultimately brings for both the CBS Corporation and Viacom, but with a merger long-been rumored, it appears to be the next sign that something might be in the works between the two companies, so it’ll be something to keep an eye on over the next half of the year.

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