Viacom CEO to shareholders: Focus on our turnaround plan, not on Moonves' exit from CBS or deal speculation
- Viacom's Bob Bakish says "scale is valuable," but repeatedly deflects questions about the potential for a CBS deal.
- Following Les Moonves' exit at CBS, some analysts suspect a merger of Viacom and CBS could be more likely.
Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said Wednesday on CNBC that he does think "scale is valuable," but he repeatedly deflected questions about whether a CBS merger is anymore likely since Les Moonves was ousted at the network.
In a "Squawk on the Street" interview, after an address to the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, Bakish said shareholders should focus on his plans to reinvigorate Viacom, not on deal speculation.
"There's no question that scale is valuable," he acknowledged. "[But] there are lot of ways to get the benefits of scale. We're getting them more and more inside the company."
On stage at the conference and in talking with David Faber on CNBC, Bakish touted what he described as the beginnings of a successful turnaround at the media giant.
Citing Viacom's Paramount Pictures as an example, Bakish told CNBC that he sees the studio on a "clear trajectory" in the right direction under a new management team.
After the Moonves departure from CBS, some analysts suspect a merger of Viacom and CBS could be more likely. Moonves was a leading voice in opposition to such as deal.
National Amusements, which controls both CBS and Viacom, has twice tried, and failed, to bring the two media companies back together again to gain scale in a landscape of megadeals galore this year.
Some of those deals include Disney's $71 billion offer to buy assets from Twenty-First Century Fox, which is approaching the finish line, and AT&T's just-completed $85 billion purchase of Time Warner.
On Sunday, CBS announced Moonves will depart "effective immediately," following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct that spanned much of his career.
CBS and NAI, the holding company of Shari Redstone and her family, agreed to drop their respective lawsuits against each other, with a stipulation that NAI and the Redstones won't pursue a CBS-Viacom deal for at least two years.
Still, that does not prevent the companies from negotiating a deal independently.
The CBS board also got an overhaul, with six new members.
— CNBC's Alex Sherman contributed to this report.