Viacom, CBS not in active discussions

CBS Viacom Merger Details

Vice Chair CBS and Viacom Co Founder and Managing Partner of Advancit Capital Shari E. Redstone. Bryan Bedder Getty Images

With major competitors such as Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Inc. getting bigger through multibillion-dollar deals, pressure is building on Viacom and CBS to bulk up.

This would not have been the first time a Redstone has pushed for a CBS-Viacom merger since they split over a decade ago.

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A report that Shari Redstone is interested in recombining Viacom and CBS sent both stocks higher heading into Friday's close. Three unnamed sources told The Wrap that Redstone is actively moving in that direction - though others familiar with the matter told Deadline there are no active discussions taking place.

Still, after-hours trading had Viacom's stock sink 2%, with subsequent reports refuting the initial news. According to the report, Shari Redstone, who is vice-chairwoman of both companies and president of National Amusements, which holds stakes in both, is "pursuing a merger".

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But Viacom shut down talks later that year, after the younger Redstone pulled the plug on the proposal, supporting then-new Viacom chief Bob Bakish and telling Recode last year that there was better value in CBS and Viacom remaining separate. She also serves as vice chair on the board of both companies.

In December 2017, there was an announced $52.4 billion deal by Walt Disney to buy about half of 21st Century Fox - its movie/TV studio, entertainment cable networks, regional sports networks, stakes in global TV operations, and its 30% stake in digital video platform, Hulu. The media companies cite the competitive threat of tech giants as animating these deals.

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