Bob Bakish Addresses Viacom Staff During Town Hall
The Viacom boss, who will serve as president and CEO of the merged ViacomCBS, spoke to staff in a "Bob Live" question-and-answer session.
There will be change, but not as much as some staffers may have expected, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish told staff in a town hall on Wednesday, a day after the unveiling of the mega-deal to recombine with CBS Corp.
"Having this IP under one umbrella will give us a huge advantage," the exec said during Wednesday's address and Q&A with employees of Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon and MTV, among other Viacom divisions.
Bakish, designated as president and CEO of the combined ViacomCBS, spoke during what's come to be know as a "Bob Live" session he holds every quarter, usually around the time of earnings reports. Wednesday's session was moved up from September to give staff a chance to ask questions about the CBS deal, whether in the room or via online submission.
Bakish said there were no imminent leadership changes, pending closure of the deal. "We will hear more leadership announcements before the end of the year," he said. Bakish spoke from an amphitheater at Viacom's office in New York's Times Square, starting at 1 p.m. local time.
Viacom and CBS Corp. executives on Tuesday promised the combination would yield $500 million in cost savings, but didn't detail where they would come from.
Early Wednesday morning, Bakish went on CNBC to discuss the mega-deal. Asked how the cultures would mesh, he said, "There is a tremendous opportunity to create a unified ViacomCBS. And I think there is a lot more in common in the cultures than people give credit for."
The exec added about his management approach: "When I took the acting CEO job at the end of '16 for Viacom, this company was totally siloed. It had a lot of issues. Paramount was an island. ... The networks even in the U.S. weren’t that collaborative in terms of running together. But today we run one Viacom."
Added Bakish in the interview: "We have multiple business units that are building off of the brands, whether it’s Viacom Digital Studios, obviously, domestic networks, international networks and Paramount. And that was the result of a vision, a management team and then executing. It’s the same kind of thing we have to do at ViacomCBS."
Bakish also lauded CBS Corp. acting CEO Joe Ianniello, who will become chairman and CEO of ViacomCBS, telling CNBC: "I have known Joe Ianniello for 20 years. I have tremendous respect for what he's done at CBS. He’s clearly a world-class executive."