Since Viacom rejected the buyout offer from CBS a month ago, merger talks between the two media companies appeared to have stalled, putting hopes of a reunified Star Trek franchise on hold. Besides stark differences on a valuation for Viacom, which recently posted positive results, the main sticking point has been regarding the management structure of what would be the newly merged corporation. However, a number of new industry reports indicate that there has been some movement on that front.
First reported Friday afternoon by Reuters, Shari Redstone, who has been the driving force behind the re-merger and controls the majority of voting shares of both companies, is now willing to give in on her demand that Viacom CEO Bob Bakish be made the second in command of the new corporation. This is a win for current CBS CEO Les Moonves, who has reportedly been insisting that current CBS Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello be made president and COO of the new corporation.
News of this concession by Redstone has led to a surge in stock prices of both corporations on Friday, as investors now see a merger as more likely. However, there are still issues to resolve, notably a succession plan for the 68 year-old Moonves who wants Ianniello to be the next in line. According to Variety, CBS “remains wary” of Redstone’s proposal for Bakish to have a seat on the board and to be be set to eventually succeed Moonves. Although the Wall Street Journal reports that Redstone is also willing to concede this point, leaving Moones’ succession up to the board. In addition, the parties still have to agree on a price, although the Reuters report says the two sides have made progress on that front.
Merger probably wont impact current Star Trek projects
In the short-run, any possible deal means little with regards to Star Trek. CBS continues to work on the second season of Star Trek: Discovery while Viacom’s Paramount Pictures continues to make progress on two Star Trek feature films. If a merger happened, it is unlikely those projects would be impacted significantly although it is possible there could be some opportunities for synergies. However, if a merger deal is struck, and once it goes through the approval process, there could be important changes to the franchise in the medium to long term for Star Trek, once it is back under one roof.
TrekMovie will continue to monitor all the business news for Star Trek, so check back for any important updates.