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"We are retaining the significant advantages we captured in the Paramount and CBS mergers and, at the same time, recognizing the need to adapt to a changing competitive environment."
——CEO Sumner Redstone
VIACOM NOW GIVES DOUBLE THE PLEASURE
Board Approves Spin-off of TV Networks and Film Studios Into Two Separate Companies
In an expected move, the board of Viacom Inc.—the media conglomerate that owns CBS and MTV, among others—announced today a unanimous approval to spin-off its cable networks and film studios as two separate publicly traded companies. The board anticipates that the two companies will be more valuable apart than together, with MTV Networks and Paramount Studios retaining the Viacom name.

In the tax-free spin-off, the more mature cash-generating businesses of CBS and UPN television networks, a handful of television stations and Infinity Broadcasting will now be dubbed CBS Corp. The latter company will be led by Les Moonves, the current had of CBS and Co-President of Viacom. The new Viacom company will be helmed by longtime MTV chief Tom Freston, also Co-President of the current Viacom.

Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone will be shareholder and controlling shareholder of both N.Y.-based companies. The board also named Redstone’s daughter Shari Redstone to the newly appointed position if non-executive Vice Chairman of the board. She’s been a member of the company’s board since 1994 as well as President of National Amusements.

The board announced that the split will occur during the first quarter of 2006, and the financial structures of the two companies will be made over the next several weeks. Viacom began exploring the split due to frustration with its diminishing stock price.

 "In many ways, today's decision is a natural extension of the path we laid out in creating Viacom," Redstone said in a memo. "We are retaining the significant advantages we captured in the Paramount and CBS mergers and, at the same time, recognizing the need to adapt to a changing competitive environment."

No word yet on other rumors that Redstone will also soon be named King of the Whole Friggin’ World...

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