Bob Bakish's Memo to ViacomCBS Staff: Merger "a Historic Moment"

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ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish

The executive sent the email to staff after Viacom and CBS completed their merger following the close of the stock market.

In his first official communications as CEO of ViacomCBS, Bob Bakish on Wednesday wrote an email to staff at the new company, positioning the combined firm as "the most important partner in the media ecosystem."

"We’ll deliver the largest share of the U.S. television audience and hold number-one positions in every demographic we serve," Bakish wrote. "Our reach will extend across every platform and every price point — including ad-supported and subscription-based streaming services — making us a cornerstone offering for distributors. The combination of our audience reach with our leadership in advanced advertising and marketing solutions will make us the go-to choice for advertisers and agencies."

Bakish sent the email to staff after Viacom and CBS completed their merger following the close of the stock market. The newly formed ViacomCBS will begin trading Thursday morning on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbols VIAC and VIACA. The email also included a link to a sizzle reel showcasing programming from CBS, Viacom, Showtime, Paramount and the company's other properties.

Bakish will also host his first employee town hall Thursday at noon ET, per his memo. He will be joined by ViacomCBS vice chair Shari Redstone in a conversation moderated by CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell.

ViacomCBS is targeting $500 million in cost synergies within its first two years, driven mostly by real estate, technology and vendor savings, though layoffs, particularly in back-office functions such as human resources, legal, and operations, are likely.

Bakish touched on the coming changes in his memo.

"To realize all of the opportunities ahead, we need to continue the important work of becoming one company and one team while continuing to position our businesses even more strongly for the future," he wrote. "That’s why, in the coming months, you’ll be hearing more from me and the senior leadership team about our strategy for growth as a combined company."

While Bakish will be CEO of ViacomCBS, former CBS CEO Joe Ianniello will stay with the combined firm to lead the CBS businesses.

Read Bakish’s full email, below.

Team,

I’m thrilled to share that our merger is closed, and we are now operating as ViacomCBS.

This is a historic moment for us, and it’s come at exactly the right time in this quickly evolving media landscape. Demand has never been higher for what we do best: create and deliver culture-defining content and experiences.

ViacomCBS brings together powerful consumer brands that have shaped media and entertainment for decades. It reunites America’s most watched network and Hollywood’s longest-running film studio; a suite of leading broadcast and premium pay-TV channels from the U.S. to Australia; a major force in consumer publishing; and one of the most innovative digital and streaming portfolios in the marketplace.

Our shared passion for storytelling is one reason why I believe our companies are a great fit. You see it in our incredible legacy of hit programming, from SpongeBob to 60 Minutes, Star Trek to South Park. We introduced audiences to Bobby Axelrod and Forrest Gump, Lucy Ricardo and Dora the Explorer. We aired the very first Super Bowl and have produced some of the most groundbreaking journalism since the dawn of the broadcast era. And now, we have a rare and exciting opportunity to drive the future of our industry as one of the largest and most influential content creators in the world.

Commercially, we will be the most important partner in the media ecosystem. We’ll deliver the largest share of the U.S. television audience and hold number-one positions in every demographic we serve. Our reach will extend across every platform and every price point — including ad-supported and subscription-based streaming services — making us a cornerstone offering for distributors. The combination of our audience reach with our leadership in advanced advertising and marketing solutions will make us the go-to choice for advertisers and agencies.

In production, we’ll be a global powerhouse, making premium content at scale in every genre through our own award-winning film and television studios. And we now have one of the most valuable libraries of entertainment out there — an extensive collection of iconic franchises with over 140,000 TV episodes and 3,600 film titles.

Beyond these complementary assets, we’ll leverage a massive global operating footprint that connects with more than 4.3 billion subscribers across 45 languages in nearly every country in the world. This competitive advantage will allow us to further extend our brands and IP well beyond the screen and even further into live events, consumer products, recreation and experiences.

In every respect, as ViacomCBS, we’ll be better positioned to serve audiences and our partners. But this is the beginning of our journey — not the destination. To realize all of the opportunities ahead, we need to continue the important work of becoming one company and one team while continuing to position our businesses even more strongly for the future. That’s why, in the coming months, you’ll be hearing more from me and the senior leadership team about our strategy for growth as a combined company. 

Very importantly, we will also need to come together around a common mission and set of values that define our culture at ViacomCBS. These efforts, too, are underway, and we’ll be sharing more details with you soon.

Yes, this will all take a lot of hard work — and we’ll need to challenge ourselves to operate more nimbly, creatively and collaboratively — but with the leadership, talent and determination we bring collectively across our teams, I have no doubt we will deliver. 

In the meantime, I know you have questions about the future and what’s next. Tomorrow, December 5 — now at 12:00pm ET — we’ll hold our first Bob Live employee townhall. Joining me will be Shari Redstone, Chair of ViacomCBS, for a conversation now moderated by Norah O’Donnell of CBS Evening News. We’ll be speaking about our vision for ViacomCBS, discussing next steps for the integration of our companies and answering any questions you may have. We really hope you’ll join us in person or online. 

In the meantime, check out www.viacbs.com and follow @ViacomCBS on social platforms to stay updated on all the great work that’s happening across our company.

We’ve taken a big step forward, and it’s all thanks to you. I can’t wait for us to get started, and I look forward to speaking with you tomorrow about our exciting road ahead.

Best,

Bob