A source acknowledged that discussions were held last summer but never went very far. Fox’s unsolicited $80 billion takeover offer for Time Warner, which became public last July, spurred the outreach from CBS.
Although sources stress that there are no active conversations between the Eye and TW, the conversations between CBS chief Leslie Moonves and Bewkes indicate that CBS is looking for options to charting a course for its future.
There’s no certainty about the long-term ownership picture for CBS because of the advancing years of controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone, who will be 92 in May. After his death, Redstone’s grip on CBS and Viacom will be transferred to a family trust overseen by a board of five executives that includes Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman but not Moonves.
Moonves said last week at an investor conference that he does not feel pressure to grow CBS Corp.’s holdings significantly or find a merger partner unless an attractive deal came along at the right price.