Reports: Redstones Desire CBS-Viacom Marriage

Letter to directors could come this week
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National Amusements, the theater-chain holding company that houses Sumner Redstone’s controlling interests in CBS and Viacom, is readying a letter to directors of both media companies urging a merger, according to published reports.

Reuters and the Wall Street Journal said Tuesday that the letter, which would call for each company’s board of directors to appoint a special committee to investigate a potential merger between CBS and Viacom, could come as early as this week.

Representatives from Viacom did not immediately return a request for comment. National Amusements declined comment.

Terms of a union were not disclosed, but rejoining the two companies, which split in 2006, would solve a lot of Viacom’s problems. Redstone has been shaking up Viacom for months, leading to the ouster of his former friend and confidant, Viacom executive chairman and CEO Philippe Dauman.

While analysts have previously said a CBS-Viacom merger wouldn’t offer much benefit to the broadcaster, recent moves by the cable networks appear to be pushing the two companies together.

Shares of both CBS and Viacom were up about 5% each in early trading Tuesday. The stocks settled down a bit later in the day, with CBS up 1.3% (66 cents) to $52.71 each and Viacom up 2% (68 cents) to $36.15 at 12:27 p.m. Sept. 28.

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