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US: CBS, Viacom agree to merge

WASHINGTON

CBS Corp. and Viacom reached a deal Tuesday to merge after years of talks. 

CBS is buying Viacom in an all-stock transaction that values Viacom at its current stock market capitalization of $12 billion, the companies announced. CBS’s current market value is $18 billion.

Viacom’s Chief Executive Robert Bakish will lead the new company, which will be called ViacomCBS.

The deal struck between the media giants marks a reunification of two companies that were once together more than a decade ago.

CBS and Viacom first merged together in 1999 in a deal valued then at $35.6 billion but split six years later.

“Today marks an important day for CBS and Viacom, as we unite our complementary assets and capabilities and become one of only a few companies with the breadth and depth of content and reach to shape the future of our industry,” Bakish said in a statement.

Combined revenue of ViacomCBS will be $28 billion in revenue and will hold the largest market share, 22%, of American television viewership, the two companies said in a statement.

The deal also serves to put VIacomCBS in more direct competition with other media conglomerates, including Walt Disney Co., AT&T, and internet companies Netflix and Amazon. In March, Walt Disney Co. acquired 21st Century Fox for $52 billion and AT&T obtained Time Warner Cable in June in a deal worth $85 billion.

The two companies were long-controlled by media magnate Sumner Redstone and more recently by his daughter, Shari, through the Redstones’ company, National Amusements, which owns theaters in the U.S. and the U.K.

Shari Redstone is vice-chair of CBS and Viacom, as well as the president of National Amusements.

“I am really excited to see these two great companies come together so that they can realize the incredible power of their combined assets,” she said in a statement and will become the chair of ViacomCBS. “My father once said ‘content is king’ and never has that been more true than today.”

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