ViacomCBS Chief Aims for "Disciplined" Post-Merger M&A Strategy

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Viacom CEO Bob Bakish

"We just did our transformational deal — there is no other deal in the market or that we see that we feel we have to do," CEO Bob Bakish said Tuesday.

ViacomCBS will consider M&A deals once the two companies combine, but CEO Bob Bakish is making it clear that the company does not think it needs to make any big acquisitions.

“We just did our transformational deal — there is no other deal in the market or that we see that we feel we have to do,” Bakish said Tuesday at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference in New York.

It was a point echoed by CBS CFO Christina Spade, who will be CFO of the combined company, and was interviewed alongside Bakish at the conference.

“As we think about how we spend our cash, highest and best use is to invest it back in our business,” Spade said, adding that de-levering and share repurchases are also on the table. ViacomCBS will be “highly disciplined and deliberate about how we do M&A,” she added.

Bakish said that while the company does not feel that it has to do any major M&A deals, it would look at opportunities like an “international cornerstone,” or a strategic play that could bolster the company’s library.

Bakish and Spade also used the conference to discuss NFL rights, which are expected to come up for renegotiations after the league reaches a deal with the NFL Players Association. Bakish said that CBS brings the reach of broadcast TV and the production values the NFL has come to expect, while Viacom would bring a young audience and international opportunities for the league.

On the film side, Bakish said that Paramount Pictures is expected to return to full-year profitability and has 16 films slated for 2020. The company is considering expanding the slate to 19 films the following year.