The latest news out of the always fruitful Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, is that there isn’t any, as CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves told Fox Business Network he has “no plans to make a move for another company.”
Moonves no-deal stance echoes Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, who put the kibosh on rumors that the telephone company was readying its war chest for a run at The Walt Disney Co., yesterday.
The Sun Valley conference, also known as billionaire’s day camp, has been a veritable petri dish of deals ever since 1995, when Disney initiated its purchase of Cap Cities/ABC at the conference that year. Since then such media mega deals as Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal, and Amazon’s purchase of the Washington Post were said to have sprung from seeds first planted in Sun Valley.
CBS has been in the thick of rumor talk ever since the company split from former parent Viacom in 2006. While Moonves effectively shot down speculation that it would rejoin with Viacom last year, most recently it has been included in the long list of possible suitors for Disney and other media companies.
Merger talks has been spurred by AT&T’s pending purchase of Time Warner Inc., for $108.7 billion, including assumed debt. That deal is still undergoing regulatory scrutiny. Moonves told FBN that he believes the AT&T/Time Warner deal will be approved.
“It’s going to happen,” Moonves told the network.
FBN reporter Charlie Gasparino, said that Moonves admission that CBS is willing to go it alone speaks volumes for the company.
“You know, sometimes stories are not just deals that are happening but deals that may not happen and what Les Moonves is telling Fox Business is that he believes CBS is better alone,” Gasparino said during his broadcast. “He doesn’t see the need to merge, to team up with distribution, or to buy something else. Pretty interesting because they’re always being rumored about buying something or merging with a distribution outlet.”