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Tech Shari Redstone is reportedly 'likely' to fire Les Moonves as CEO of CBS if the Viacom merger falls through

Shari Redstone, head of National Amusements, is likely to fire Leslie Moonves as the head of CBS if a merger between CBS and Viacom falls through, CNBC reports.

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(Reuters)

  • Shari Redstone is likely to fire Leslie Moonves as the head of CBS if a merger between CBS and Viacom falls through, CNBC reports.
  • CBS is expected to make a new offer for the purchase of Viacom, but the bid is expected to be an insufficient price for Viacom, sources told CNBC.
  • The Hollywood Reporter reported Wednesday that CBS' potential merger with Viacom's struggling assets is "repellent to Moonves."
  • "The industry and the marketplace know Leslie Moonves’ record and we think it speaks for itself," a CBS representative said in a statement to Business Insider.

Shari Redstone, whose company National Amusements controls CBS and Viacom, is likely to fire Leslie Moonves as the head of CBS if a merger between CBS and Viacom falls through, CNBC reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the situation.

CBS is soon expected to make a new offer for the purchase of Viacom, but the network's bid is expected to be an insufficient price on Viacom's side of the deal, sources told CNBC.

CBS originally made a "lowball offer" of about $11.9 billion for Viacom (below market value), which was countered by Viacom with an offer of about $14.7 billion, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In a profile of the embattled potential merger on Wednesday, THR reported that Viacom's struggling assets like MTV and Nickelodeon have made a merger plan "repellent to Moonves." CBS and Viacom were previously part of the same company from 2000 to 2006, under the ownership of National Amusements, before Viacom spun-off as a separate company in 2006.

Shari Redstone has reportedly been pushing for the merger and is "widely seen as intent on taking a hand in the running of the combined companies," according to THR. She is in the driver's seat at National Amusements because of the declining health of her 94-year-old father, mogul Sumner Redstone. The elder Redstone's health, The Wall Street Journal reported last week, had "declined so significantly that he cannot speak much beyond grunts."

CNBC reported that one roadblock to the CBS-Viacom merger deal has been a disagreement over the potential management team of the combined company. Moonves reportedly favors Joe Ianniello, COO of CBS, as his potential key lieutenant in the new company, while Redstone wants Bob Bakish, the current CEO of Viacom, as the company's second-in-command.

Moonves was believed to have previously agreed with Redstone to run the combined company for at least two years, according to CNBC.

Sources told CNBC that Redstone is also expected to replace the CBS board if a merger isn't reached between the two companies.

"The industry and the marketplace know Leslie Moonves’ record and we think it speaks for itself," a CBS representative said in a statement to Business Insider.

Moonves, well-regarded by shareholders and the industry, was also elevated to chairman of CBS in 2016. He earned praise in February for having delivered over 5 million subscribers to the company's streaming services, CBS All Access and Showtime OTT, well ahead of expectations.

Viacom and National Amusements were not immediately available for comment to Business Insider.