Global media conglomerate Discovery has denied a CNBC report that the company is “interested in selling” to the CBS Corporation, or to a combined CBS-Viacom should the two companies finalize a merger.
“The CNBC story is inaccurate,” said David Leavy, Discovery’s chief corporate operations officer, in a statement. “Discovery is not for sale. We remain extremely confident in our growth strategy in the U.S. and globally as we continue to build the leading portfolio of superfan brands in every market around the world.”
The report, which cited unnamed sources, claimed that CBS Corporation and Viacom vice chairwoman Shari Redstone, whose family-owned National Amusements Inc. holds controlling stakes in both companies, would also consider buying other companies. The report also stated that official talks concerning a potential acquisition have not begun.
Discovery is home to Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network and HGTV, among other networks. Discovery, which formerly acquired Scripps Networks Interactive in March for US$14.6 billion, extended CEO David Zaslav’s contract with the company last year through to 2023.
The report also stated that the CBS board is keen to set a new, permanent CEO in place by March, after the September ouster of long-time chairman and CEO Les Moonves amid sexual harassment allegations. Joe Ianniello is currently acting CEO.
CBS and Viacom had, in February of 2018, appointed special committees to evaluate a potential merger. The two companies had reached an agreement on the terms of the merger, but reportedly couldn’t settle on the management composition of the combined company.
Viacom and CBS merged in 1999 in a deal that was then worth US$35.6 billion and remained one company until 2006, until Sumner Redstone, the founder and major shareholder of Viacom, split the two entities into Viacom and CBS Corporation.
In 2016, there were discussions of merging CBS with Viacom but a deal did not come to fruition.
CBS owns one of the world’s largest libraries of entertainment content. CBS’ businesses include CBS Television Network, The CW (a joint venture between CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment), Network Ten Australia, CBS Television Studios, Showtime Networks and more.
With files from Selina Chignall