Shari Redstone Pushing for New Board at CBS (Report)

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Shari Redstone

There are no active talks to merge the companies as of the moment.

If the board of directors at CBS isn't keen on merging the company with Viacom, then some of the directors apparently need to be replaced.

At least that's what Shari Redstone might be advocating, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Redstone and her family control both Viacom and CBS through their large stake in National Amusements, and insiders say she's been getting serious about her desire to see the two media companies combined again, as they were prior to splitting Viacom in two back in 2005.

CBS CEO Les Moonves and some others on the board, though, have been resisting, and CBS investors appear to be siding with them. On Wednesday, for example, Viacom shares jumped 4 percent at the prospect of a new merger-friendly board at CBS, while shares of CBS fell 2 percent. 

Rumors that CBS will merge with Viacom pop up often, most recently last week, though by Monday it appeared to Wall Street that there was nothing concrete in the works, which removed a catalyst for Viacom's long-suffering stock to move higher.

On Tuesday, in fact, Rosenblatt Securities analyst Alan Gould lowered his rating on Viacom stock to "sell" based on his opinion that it won't merge with CBS anytime soon, while he reiterated a "buy" recommendation on CBS. The analyst says CBS would make a better partner with Verizon, among others, than it would with Viacom.

While insiders tell The Hollywood Reporter that there are no active talks to merge Viacom and CBS right now, the Journal says that Redstone reached out to Moonves earlier this month to request that he start negotiating as early as this quarter.

Investors on both sides appear to be clamoring for something dramatic to happen, as shares of both Viacom and CBS trade for less than they did a year ago even as the stock market in general has been on a powerful bull run.

Plus, AT&T's pending acquisition of Time Warner and Disney's pending acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox has Wall Street presuming that media companies need to grow bigger, quickly, through acquisition, if they're to remain competitive.

CBS had no comment, and Viacom was not available for comment.

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