Viacom still mulling divorce terms

Bakish: Conglom felt obliged to go public with split plans

Viacom wants to clarify its split as soon as possible, although exec VP of operations Bob Bakish noted Tuesday it’s a “fairly complicated process — it’s not something you can snap your figures and say it’s done.

“We’re in the middle of doing a detailed assessment of what the split-off means,” he told investors at a media conference.

Bakish said Viacom felt obliged to go public with its divorce plans since more and more staffers and outside advisers were examining the proposal. “We knew, as that widened, word would have gotten out.

“We do think, potentially, it’s a compelling idea for the company and shareholders.”

Media moguls at the Banc of America confab opined freely on the pending breakup, which could broadly see Paramount and MTV Networks splitting from CBS and Infinity into two separately publicly traded companies overseen, respectively, by Tom Freston and Leslie Moonves, currently Viacom’s co-chief operating officers.

“Summer, I think, is miles away,” opined Liberty Media chief John Malone. “I don’t understand Viacom splitting, because they are giving up a lot of market power when they do that.”

Malone himself recently announced plans to spin off Discovery Communications into a separately traded public company. He also created a separate umbrella for Liberty’s international operations.

Standing pat

Time Warner chief financial officer Wayne Pace revealed that his conglom has considered splitting.

“Frankly, it’s something we look at as part of our annual strategic process. We feel there is more value to be attained by keeping it together. It is something we will continue to look at,” Pace said.

A public offering of Time Warner Cable could be likely — particularly if the conglom succeeds in buying Adelphia. Speculation persists about a spinoff or sale of America Online.

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