Simon & Schuster owner CBS has announced a merger with entertainment giant Viacom, reuniting the two firms that split in 2006.
The new combined company, ViacomCBS, worth around $28bn, is seen as a move to take on growing media players such as Netflix and brings together huge brands including Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central and MTV.
It will see Viacom c.e.o. Bob Bakish installed as president and chief executive of ViacomCBS. Joe Ianniello, CBS interim c.e.o, is named chairman and chief executive of CBS. The company said it expected to deliver around $500m worth of savings through the merger.
In a message to staff, S&S president and c.e.o Carolyn Reidy said “a new and exciting chapter” had arrived for the publisher.
She said: “Along with Showtime, Simon & Schuster will now be directly under the leadership of Bob Bakish, who will be president and c.e.o. of the new ViacomCBS. We have always enjoyed tremendous support from Joe Ianniello and CBS, and in the coming months I look forward, with my leadership team, to working with Bob and our new colleagues, some of whom we remember from our previous years as part of the Viacom family.”
She said the transitional months would raise “many questions” but added: “I always say that with change comes opportunity, and we will now be proudly associated with an even more formidable portfolio of brands and content. What doesn’t change is our status as a world-class global publishing company, with a list of award-winning, bestselling and rising authors, published by a staff of creative and hardworking professionals who every day make me proud and grateful to lead Simon & Schuster.”
The new company is expected to be chaired by Shari Redstone, president of the National Amusements holding company that controls CBS and Viacom. Her father, Sumner, broke up the two companies 13 years ago.
She said: “I am really excited to see these two great companies come together so that they can realize the incredible power of their combined assets. My father once said ‘content is king,’ and never has that been more true than today. Through CBS and Viacom’s shared passion for premium content and innovation, we will establish a world-class, multiplatform media organisation that is well-positioned for growth in a rapidly transforming industry.”
Ianniello, who will oversee all CBS-branded assets, said: “This merger brings an exciting new set of opportunities to both companies. At CBS, we have outstanding momentum right now – creatively and operationally – and Viacom’s portfolio will help accelerate that progress. I look forward to all we will do together as we build on our ongoing success. And personally, I am pleased to remain focused on CBS’s top priority – continuing our transformation into a global, multiplatform, premium content company.”