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Banking

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.

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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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