In separate statements the two companies said they had each established a special committee to evaluate the combination and retained independent legal counsel and financial advisers to deal with the matter.
The combination of the two US media giants would restore the single company structure that existed between 2000 and 2006. It follows the current market trend for scale as witnessed by Disney’s proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox and AT&T’s multi-billion dollar pursuit of Time Warner.
Sumner Redstone, now 94 and in poor health, took hold of Viacom in 1987 before acquiring CBS 13 years later.
The possibility of a new Viacom-CBS tie up was first raised 12 months ago amid the acrimony of the succession process in the Viacom boardroom. Redstone’s daughter Shari is said to be in favour of the move.
Viacom’s interests include MTV, VH1, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures.