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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 March, 2005, 06:43 GMT
Viacom may split into two firms
Sumner Redstone, Viacom's chairman and chief executive
Viacom's Sumner Redstone could be chairman of both new companies
Viacom, the US media firm that owns MTV, CBS and Nickleodeon, may split into two separate firms, both traded on the stock market.

It plans to put its cable TV networks into a different firm to its broadcast and outdoor advertising businesses.

The firm hopes they will be worth more in total if valued separately.

The firm issued a statement on Wednesday evening confirming the plan, speculation about which had caused its shares to rise 6%.

Maximising value

Chief executive Sumner Redstone said Viacom's board had authorised the company to explore the separation as a means of achieving important corporate objectives and better delivering value to shareholders.

The company will announce further details of the possible separation in the second quarter of 2005.

"It is clear that, despite our success in operating our businesses for maximum return, Viacom's businesses have inherently different growth characteristics and investment attributes that appeal to different types of investors," Mr Redstone said.

He added: "It has also become clear that this important distinction is likely to continue to limit Viacom's ability to receive full value for its assets and its prospects in the investment community."

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