Viacom CEO Signals No Interest in Acquisition of Major Studio

7:05 AM PST 11/15/2012 by Georg Szalai

Asked if the company could bid if a studio like Sony Pictures became available, Philippe Dauman said "I continue to not see any large-scale acquisition."

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said Thursday that he continues to expect to stay away from major acquisitions, even if a big Hollywood studio became available.

During the entertainment conglomerate's quarterly earnings call on Thursday, one analyst asked if Viacom would consider spending cash on a big deal opportunity if an asset like Sony Pictures came up for auction somewhere down the line.

The CEO replied that capital returns via stock buybacks and dividends, as well as small acquisitions would remain Viacom's focus.

"As I've said before at looking at the [entertainment] universe, I continue to not see any large-scale acquisition for Viacom," Dauman said. "We have a lot to do in growing organically."

He reiterated that this and "discreet, small-price M&A, particularly in the international arena," would provide "more value" than large-scale purchases, which have in the past often proven to have various pitfalls.

The mention of Sony Pictures by the analyst came after rumors recently ran rampant in Hollywood that new Sony Corp. CEO Kaz Hirai could look to sell the studio. In a statement to THR, Hirai recently said: "There is absolutely no truth to rumors that Sony’s entertainment businesses are for sale."

He added: "Our entertainment companies have a stable business foundation and are poised for future growth. There is no reason to sell these industry-leading businesses, and no consideration is being given to the idea.”

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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