Shari Redstone likely to replace Moonves as head of CBS if no deal with Viacom, sources say

  • Shari Redstone is likely to replace CBS chief Les Moonves if no merger deal is reached with Viacom, sources tell CNBC.
  • CBS is expected to make another offer soon, but the new bid is expected to fall short on price, sources say.

Shari Redstone, whose National Amusements controls CBS and Viacom, is likely to replace CBS CEO Les Moonves if a deal isn't reached between the two companies as the media tie-up hits an impasse, sources familiar with the situation said.

CBS is expected to make another offer soon, the sources said, but that new bid was expected to fall short on price. The amount of synergy expected by CBS is well below that of Viacom.

The main obstacle to the rejoining of the network and owner of Nickelodeon and MTV is a growing distrust between Redstone and Moonves. As CNBC previously reported, Moonves wants to pick his own management team if he is to head the combined entity and favors Joe Ianniello, chief operating officer of CBS, as his key lieutenant. Redstone, however, wants Bob Bakish, the current CEO of Viacom, as No. 2.

Leslie Moonves, Chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation (l) and Shari Redstone Vice Chairperson of Viacom.
CNBC | Getty Images
Leslie Moonves, Chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation (l) and Shari Redstone Vice Chairperson of Viacom.

Redstone is also expected to replace the CBS board if a deal isn't reached, the sources said.

Previously, Moonves was believed to have agreed with Redstone to run the combined company for at least two years.

"National Amusements has tremendous respect for Les Moonves and it has always been our intention that he run a combined company," the holding company said in a statement.

CBS shares were down 1.5 percent on Wednesday and Viacom shares were off by 1 percent. National Amusements, founded by Redstone's father, Sumner, owns an 80 percent of each company.

"The industry and the marketplace know Leslie Moonves' record and we think it speaks for itself," CBS said in a statement in response to this story.