3. Inside the fight to control CBS/Viacom
CBS Board Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves asked in 2016 that he remain Chairman of the Board of a combined CBS/Viacom company and that his CBS management team "have complete and irrevocable authority to manage the combined businesses,” according to a 2016 letter from Moonves' lawyers to Shari Redstone's lawyers.
Why it matters: While the letter points to negotiations from previous merger talks between CBS and Viacom, sources say that the overall theme of the nine conditions listed by Moonves, centered around management and control, could have a common link with Moonves' feelings today that having his team oversee the combined company would be crucial for a successful merger.
The letter is included in an excerpt from Ken Auletta's upcoming book, Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else), which has been obtained by Axios.
- As Auletta notes in his book, due for release in June, this contradicts Moonves' previous implications that board control negotiations with Redstone were not a large issue, threatening a potential merger between CBS and Viacom.
- "Publicly, in 2016 Moonves professed his reluctance and said he was not in a standoff with Redstone over whether he or she would control the board of the combined companies. 'Control was not a very large issue,' he says. This appears to be untrue,' Auletta writes."
Between the lines: Reports this time around have suggested that negotiations regarding who would be second-in-command of a combined company, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish or CBS chief operating officer Joseph Ianniello, have held up merger talks, as well as pricing around the Viacom acquisition.
Go deeper: Read the full letter.