Viacom to Remain Independent Amid CBS Merger Push, Says CEO

Bob Bakish - 2017 BET Upfront NY - Getty - H 2018
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"We have the full support of our board," Bob Bakish told a technology conference in Aspen, Colorado.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish on Tuesday didn't directly address his company's legal tug-of-war with CBS, but he did predict Shari Redstone's push for a recombination of the companies will not happen anytime soon.

"Who knows honestly what the future will bring. My guess is, yes, we will be independent a year from now," Bakish told Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado, during a session that was webcast. "We're executing in that regard. We have the full support of our board. And we're talking about a number of interesting ideas, both organic and inorganic. But we'll have to see how the whole ecosystem plays out," he added.

As Redstone, the daughter of Viacom founder Sumner Redstone, looks to position CBS and Viacom to compete with Facebook, Google and Netflix, she is battling CBS CEO Leslie Moonves in court. "There's a lot going on. There's a lot more to do. Certainly, we're living in interesting times, but it's an exciting place to be," Bakish ventured. 

But the exec discounted any talk of a vertical integration play for Viacom where, should Redstone get her way and merge CBS with Viacom, she would then sell the combined entity to a phone giant or John Malone's Liberty Media. "This whole notion of vertical integration and consolidation goes in waves. You see stuff get put together and you see stuff taken apart," Bakish told the Aspen conference.

"The most important thing through it all is what's your plan and is your team the best it can be and are you executing. So I continue to like my hand," he added. The Viacom boss also argued "relevant scale" was more important than scale for its own sake to battle Netflix and other digital players. 

"There's plenty examples of scale where there's actually no value to the combination. We see that today in some assets where they own both media and distribution, but there really isn't a lot of crossover," Bakish said.