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Report: CBS prepares for merger talks with Viacom

CBS Corp.'s board is preparing for merger talks with Viacom Inc., CNBC reported May 30, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The discussions are reportedly expected to begin in mid-June but may start sooner. Viacom CEO Robert Bakish is likely to lead the merged entity if a deal pushes through.

The CBS board is reviewing several options to protect itself from possible shareholder lawsuits resulting from the merger talks. CBS in 2018 traded lawsuits with its majority shareholder National Amusements Inc. over the latter's push for the broadcaster to recombine with Viacom.

National Amusements abandoned an earlier proposal in 2016 to combine CBS and Viacom, saying it was "not the right time to merge the companies."

The CBS board also reviewed its unofficial $5 billion offer to purchase Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.'s premium network Starz, Reuters reported, citing a source.

Analysts said CBS would be better off purchasing all of Lions Gate's assets instead of only Starz, noting these would be valuable for the broadcaster's possible merger with Viacom.