Viacom to Name Bob Bakish Interim CEO (Report)

Bob Bakish - MTV shuga event - Getty - H - 2016
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The head of the company's international networks is in line to take over from Tom Dooley, who followed Philippe Dauman, at a time when Viacom and CBS are studying a recombination.

Bob Bakish, CEO and president of Viacom's Viacom International Media Networks unit, is expected to soon be named interim CEO of the entertainment conglomerate.

A spokesman for Viacom declined to comment about a Bloomberg News report about the planned leadership change, which could reportedly come within days. A person close to the company said the board of directors is not planning to imminently announce anything.

A representative for Bakish also declined to comment.

Viacom announced in September that interim CEO Tom Dooley would depart in November. Dooley said he would remain in his interim position through Nov. 15 "to facilitate an orderly transition." No immediate successor as president and CEO was named at the time. 

The news was the latest major company development following the ouster of Philippe Dauman in the battle for control of the media giant. National Amusements, through which Sumner Redstone and daughter Shari Redstone control Viacom and CBS, has asked both companies to begin researching a possible merger.

Bloomberg said that Bakish could get the opportunity to become permanent CEO. Viacom CFO Wade Davis, who has been in his post since late 2012, was also reportedly considered for the CEO role. His past experience as an investment banker is seen as an asset amid the exploration of a possible CBS deal.

Bakish first joined Viacom in 1997 after working as a partner at consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton in its media and entertainment practice. He served as executive vp and COO of MTV Networks Advertising Sales, then became Viacom's executive vp operations and Viacom Enterprises, and later was named president of MTV Networks International.

In 2011, Bakish was named head of the company's international networks business. The unit has been one of the company's key growth businesses at a time when Viacom's Paramount Pictures and U.S. networks have struggled. For example, its U.K. networks reached record revenue and viewer share in the latest fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

Bakish, who travels frequently to visit Viacom's various foreign operations and meet existing or potential partners in different markets, has a reputation for being able to work with people across the operation. One executive who used to work with him told THR that Bakish empowers people who report to him to run their businesses and weighs in with his insight.

Bakish and his team have expanded the distribution of core network brands, such as Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, in international markets and last year launched the Viacom Play Plex suite of mobile TV apps to offer video-on-demand access to a range of current and library content, as well as a live local linear streams. This year, it also launched BET Play, the company's first-ever direct-to-consumer, subscription video-on-demand app for an adult audience.