CBS, Viacom pick CEO if merger deal reached, possibly this week

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CBS and Viacom have reached a working agreement on who would lead the company if they merge, FOX Business's Charlie Gasparino reported on Friday. As of Monday, the odds that a formal deal could be announced this week moved to 50-50 and may come on Thursday when both companies report earnings.

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Viacom CEO Bob Bakish will be chief executive of the combined company with acting CBS chief executive Joe Ianniello second in command, overseeing the CBS brand. It is not clear if Ianniello would remain beyond the transition.

SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 14: Bob Bakish, president and chief executive officer of Viacom (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ianniello stepped in when longtime CEO Les Moonves was forced to step down in September amid sexual misconduct allegations. Moonves has denied the allegations.

Moonves had opposed a merger, which put him at odds with vice chairman Shari Redstone, whose family’s holding company controls Viacom and CBS. Redstone believes a merger would better position the companies to compete with rivals.

Bakish is said to have a good working relationship with Redstone. The 55-year-old replaced interim CEO Tom Dooley in October 2916.

Viacom's key brands are Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV and film studio Paramount.


CBS has not formally submitted an offer and merger talks are ongoing. A deal could be announced by the end of the week.

*This story, originally published on August 3, has been updated.