Redstone trumpets synergies

'Net group saw revenues grow 261% in first quarter 2000

It’s Sumner Redstone’s coming-out party.

Delivering his first major address since the official merger between Viacom and CBS, Redstone spelled out the vertically integrated advantages of the newly combined behemoth.

Speaking in New York at the Sanford Bernstein Conference on Thursday, the topper pointed to hit reality skein “Survivor” as an example of the new company’s marketing muscle.

“We are not only moving at a rapidly accelerating pace to integrate our incredibly complementary operations, but also to exploit myriad growth strategies that will make Viacom the preeminent success story of the media industry for many decades to come.”

With outlets such as MTV, CBS and Nick hitting virtually every demo, Redstone once again pointed out the company’s cradle-to-grave strategy.

“We give advertisers the ability to aggregate audiences across multiple media, from (Don) Imus at breakfast to (David) Letterman before bed,” he said.

Redstone noted that Viacom/CBS’ combined revenue reached $22 billion in 1999, including $10 billion in advertising revenue. He said the company expects to grow core business cash flow (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) at more than 20% per year.

“Great investors and great comedians know that timing is everything,” Redstone said. “I’m not much of a comedian — but I do know something about investing. The timing of Viacom’s marriage to CBS couldn’t be better.”

One growing business, Viacom’s Internet group already saw revenues grow 261% in first quarter 2000, Redstone said. MTVi is expected to go public soon, Redstone said, while the CBS Internet Group is expected to announce a new local strategy shortly.

Redstone said Viacom even boasts a new slogan: “Dynamic EBITDA and free cash flow growth.”

“If it catches on the way I think it will, Mel (Karmazin) and I plan to cut a musicvideo at MTV,” he said.

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