Viacom Board OKs Split


Viacom Inc.’s board of directors Tuesday unanimously approved the plan to split into two separately traded public companies.

Sumner Redstone will be chairman of both companies and his daughter, Shari Redstone, a current director, has been installed as nonexecutive vice chairman, a new Viacom post.

Viacom shareholders will own shares in both firms through a tax-free spinoff expected in the first quarter of next year.

The point of the breakup -- first proposed in March -- is to create separate stocks containing high-growth assets, such as MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures, and slower-growth assets, such as the CBS broadcast network and outdoor advertising.

The new company created through the spinoff will retain the Viacom Inc. name and will be led by Tom Freston.

The new Viacom will be comprised of MTVN (including MTV: Music Television, VH1, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Comedy Central, Country Music Television, Spike TV, TV Land and many other networks around the world), Black Entertainment Television, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Home Entertainment and Famous Music.

The other company, to be called CBS Corp., will be led by Leslie Moonves and will combine the CBS and UPN broadcast networks; Viacom Television Stations Group; Infinity Broadcasting Corp.; Viacom Outdoor; the CBS, Paramount and King World Productions television-production operations; Showtime Networks Inc.; Simon & Schuster Inc,; and Paramount Parks.

Freston and Moonves are each co-president and co-chief operating officer of Viacom.

Viacom’s class-A share price rose 37 cents to $34.64 Tuesday.