By Keach Hagey
Shari Redstone, an emerging media mogul in her own right, said she didn't support the decision to separate Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. a decade ago and believes that reuniting the media companies controlled by her family could give them crucial scale in the marketplace.
Ms. Redstone -- the vice chairman of CBS and Viacom and president of National Amusements Inc., the family holding company that controls an 80% voting stake in both companies -- made a rare public appearance at the New York Times's DealBook Conference on Thursday. On stage, she made her first public comments about the logic of a potential tie-up since National Amusements sent a letter to the boards of both companies in September asking them to weigh a potential merger.
"Scale is going to matter," Ms. Redstone said. "Scale matters because it is going to give us leverage."
She also stressed that, if the special committees of both companies determined that a merger wasn't in their best interests, both companies could stand on their own. But she admitted she hadn't supported the original decision by her father, Sumner Redstone, now 93, to separate them in 2006.
"I actually was never a great proponent of the split," she said.
Ms. Redstone said she has to stay out of the current merger consideration process for legal reasons.
She said she believes AT&T Inc.'s recently announced $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. "makes sense" because, to borrow her father's famous catch phrase, "at the end of the day, it proves that content is stillking."
Asked by host Andrew Ross Sorkin about years of market speculation that a union of CBS and Time Warner would yield great synergies, she said, "I'm supportive of anything...that would allow us to expand our great portfolio of great content."
When asked about 67-year-old CBS CEO Leslie Moonves's recent joke that he was "too old and too rich" to take the job atop a merged CBS-Viacom, Ms. Redstone had a ready quip of her own.
"Having grown up in the family I grew up in, one is never too old," she said.
Write to Keach Hagey at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 10, 2016 19:13 ET (00:13 GMT)
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