Gabelli Says Redstone Should Let Viacom-CBS Leaders Run Business

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(Bloomberg) -- Mario Gabelli, whose fund Gamco Investors Inc. is the largest outside holder of Viacom Inc. voting shares, said Shari Redstone should “step back” and leave leadership alone once its merger with CBS Corp. is completed.

Following the proposed the merger of CBS and Viacom, announced earlier this month, the 65-year-old Redstone will control the voting stock and chair the newly combined company. Viacom Chief Executive Officer Bob Bakish will lead the new ViacomCBS, with acting CBS chief Joe Ianniello staying on to head the CBS side of the business while reporting to Bakish.

“I basically think she should step back and just support Bakish and Ianniello running the business and allowing the creative juices of that combined enterprise to flow at an increasing rate,” Gabelli said Tuesday in an interview on Bloomberg Radio. “But that’s not going to happen.”

Analysts have said the combined company still won’t be big enough to compete with tech and media giants like Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp., and it may need to strike another blockbuster deal.

Gabelli said ViacomCBS will need to improve its technology and could “partner” with another company. He added that Amazon might want to expand further into entertainment.

“If I’m Amazon, I’m looking at how I get into this in a bigger way,” Gabelli said on Bloomberg TV.

Gabelli also said he’s still exploring legal options against Viacom because his stock is being bought for less than what he perceives as market value in its merger with CBS.

“All options are still on the table,” he said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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