Viacom, CBS Set Date to Close Merger

NEW -Bob Bakish and Joe Ianniello-Split-Getty-H 2019
Michael Tullberg/Getty Images; Courtesy of John Paul Filo/CBS

The companies, controlled by the Redstone family, will wrap up the deal Dec. 4, with the stock of the merged ViacomCBS to start trading Dec. 5.

CBS Corp. and Viacom said they will close their recombination, creating ViacomCBS, after the market close Dec. 4.

The combined company's stock will start trading Thursday, Dec. 5.

The companies this summer unveiled the latest entertainment industry mega-deal, which comes 14 years after Sumner Redstone split his entertainment empire in two with the idea of having two focused companies. The Redstone family will continue to control the combined firm.

Management previously said the merger would close in early December, with Shari Redstone recently saying it would be at the "very beginning" of the month.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish will lead the merged ViacomCBS as president and CEO, while CBS Corp. acting chief Joe Ianniello will become chairman and CEO of the CBS branded assets. CBS CFO Christina Spade will serve as CFO of the merged firm, and Shari Redstone, vice chair of both companies, will serve as chair of the combined entity.

ViacomCBS will own the Paramount Pictures studio, the CBS broadcast network, such cable network brands as MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and the Paramount Network, as well as such streaming services as CBS All Access, Showtime OTT and Pluto TV. It will have a library of 3,600 film titles and 140,000 TV episodes.

ViacomCBS will also boast a 22 percent share of the U.S. television audience, larger than Comcast, Disney, Fox Corp., Discovery or WarnerMedia.

The stocks of both Viacom and CBS have been trading lower since the merger was first announced as analysts and investors have questioned how much the merged company can thrive beyond the initial phase of cost reductions. "The skepticism is very motivating," Shari Redstone recently said. "We need to prove to the market that we can execute on what our strategy is."