Viacom CEO Bakish sees CBS deal closing in December, ‘disappointed’ by stock reaction

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Bob Bakish, the head of a newly combined CBS and Viacom, said those companies’ share prices aren’t rallying the way he hoped.

“Clearly we’re disappointed with how the stocks are reacting,” Bakish told CNBC’s David Faber on “Squawk Alley” Tuesday. Bakish said he spent the past two weeks talking to investors and “making sure they understand the tremendous opportunity ahead for CBS and Viacom.”

Shares of CBS are down roughly 1% year to date, while Viacom is up just 0.4%.

After years of negotiating, CBS and Viacom announced an agreement to merge in August. The deal reunites the two companies after 13 years apart and several attempts at a deal since 2016. The new company will be called ViacomCBS and Bakish will lead the combined entity. Bakish told CNBC Tuesday that he expects the deal to close in December.

“We see substantial distribution revenues in this deal,” Bakish said.

Joe Ianiello, who took over as CBS CEO last year, will be the chairman of CBS and will be in charge of those assets after the merger. Viacom spun off CBS in 2006.

The two media companies are controlled by Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements. Redstone’s daughter, Shari, is the vice chairman of the board at both CBS and Viacom and has advocated for bringing the companies back together to gain scale in a competitive media environment. Names like Disney, Comcast and AT&T have bulked up through a series of megadeals.

Bakish said players like Netflix are “also a growth segment” for Viacom as they supply the video streaming service directly with studio production.

“Every single one of the services that are in the market today are doing business with us on a traditional production basis — we are in clear demand,” Bakish said. “As other people cut back from that, we think the free space is a substantial opportunity.”

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