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Lazard gears up for the next M&A cycle

The winners in M&A advisory are supposed to be the firms with the best-connected and most-knowledgeable industry experts to advise chief executives, but Lazard’s CEO wants more data scientists to help advisers upgrade their tools for predicting how shareholders will respond to takeover deals.


In August, CBS and Viacom announced an all-stock merger worth close to $21 billion to create a premium content media company with annual revenue of $28 billion.

The combined entity will show the NFL to US subscribers and have a strong library of films and TV series, with 750 new series ordered or in production, as well as running a global movie studio, Paramount Pictures. It is spending $13 billion a year on content and will aim to compete in the fast changing direct-to-consumer media business typified by Netflix and new producers like Amazon.

Incumbents have scaled up to respond in the last two years, with notable M&A transactions such as Walt Disney taking over the assets of 21st Century Fox and AT&T acquiring Warner Media.

The key player in the latest ViacomCBS deal is National Amusements Inc (NAI), the company majority owned by Sumner Redstone, which in turn owns just under 80% of each of CBS and Viacom.

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