CBS Slumps On Renewed Merger Talk


At Closing Bell on Wall Street, CBS shares were down 2%, to $52.52, as chatter spread across Manhattan that a good second quarter earnings report from Viacom could fuel efforts by National Amusements Inc. and the Redstone family to bring CBS and Viacom together again.

Volume was 2.35 million shares; average volume is 3.9 million shares.

CBS shares have been on a see-saw for the last 60 days, rising from $51.13 to $59.30 on July 11. The last month hasn’t been kind, as CEO Les Moonves fends off reports of improper sexual conduct while Shari Redstone — the controlling shareholder of both CBS and Viacom — is said to be wanting a reunification.

Wall Street wants this, with Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser indicating a recombination of CBS and Viacom would be of benefit to investors and bring long-term growth as the broadcast TV business is doomed due to worsening ad revenue conditions that aren’t expected, in his view, to get better.

Then, there is the health of 95-year-old Sumner Redstone. CBS Corp. directors are trying to strip him of his controlling interest in the media company, but Bloomberg reports Delaware Chancery Court Judge Andre Bouchard questions the elder Redstone’s mental capacity and his true ability to participate in efforts to prevent such a move.

CBS is attempting to lower the Redstone family’s voting control from 79% to 17%.

A trial date of October 3 has been set in the Delaware court.

A secret recording of Sumner Redstone, made by a director who is a longtime friend of the media mogul, has attracted media attention. Bouchard viewed the video in private, and is not making the video public. But, the judge did note at a Wednesday hearing, “My concerns about the issues concerning Mr. Redstone’s competency predated seeing that video.’’