June 25, 2018
Before AT&T set in motion its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, the telecom’s CEO Randall Stephenson reportedly approached Viacom chairman Shari Redstone about acquiring CBS.
Redstone, whose family-owned National Amusements (with ailing father Sumner Redstone) controls Viacom and CBS, declined the overture, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the situation.
More importantly, Redstone didn’t inform CBS CEO and Viacom board member Les Moonves about AT&T’s interest.
That non-disclosure is now among a list of disagreements fueling litigation between CBS and National Amusements – the latter wanting the re-combine Viacom and CBS. CBS is attempting to fight the movie by reconfiguring Redstone’s voting power on the board.
A spokesperson for Redstone denied that Stephenson had ever expressed interest in CBS.
“Their discussion focused on changes in the media industry and how the two might work together in the future,” the spokesperson told The Journalsaid. “Ms. Redstone does not recall any conversation regarding the potential sale of either CBS or Viacom. However, as NAI stated publicly in 2016 — and as is its right as a shareholder — it had no interest in selling its controlling stake in either company at that time.”