EXCLUSIVE-Viacom, CBS CEOs have discussed potential merger -sources

Jan 25 (Reuters) - Viacom Inc Chief Executive Bob Bakish and CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves have had an exploratory discussion about merging the two companies, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Thursday.

The discussion signifies a potential first step toward a recombination of CBS and Viacom. The boards of both companies have regularly scheduled meetings in the next couple of weeks and are expected to discuss the potential merger, the sources said.

The discussion, which took place earlier this month, were preliminary and no decisions have been made, but they signal that Moonves, who has had reservations about a potential deal between the companies, could be more open to the idea.

The sources wished to remain anonymous because they are not permitted to speak to the media. Viacom and CBS declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Shari Redstone did not immediately return calls. (Reporting By Jessica Toonkel in New York; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)