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Is CBS A Takeover Target?

CBS Corp. is seen as a potential takeover target, according to an article in the latest edition of Business Week.

The magazine quotes analysts as saying the broadcast giant could either sell or spin off its television network and 18 TV stations, perhaps to USA Networks or Viacom.

CBS is particularly attractive, the magazine said, because its assets are worth more than the stock's current price.

CBS shares rose 1 11/16 to 33 1/2 in recent trading. The company is a 50 percent owner of

A CBS spokesman said the company had no comment on the report.

Warburg Dillon Read analyst Edward Hatch told Business Week the TV station group could fetch as much as $8.4 billion, the TV network $3 billion, and the radio assets a whopping $25 billion.

Art Rockwell, analyst at Drake Capital Securities, recently told that a sale of the network might make sense, but he put little credence in the possibility. "The network is what's creating the value in the [TV] stations, so how you separate one from the other is beyond me."

USA Networks is certainly believed to be looking for a partner. Last month, Barry Diller's company was reportedly close to a deal with General Electric's NBC last month before it was scuttled by Seagram Chief Executive Officer Edgar Bronfman, whose company owns 45 percent of USA Networks. Under the terms of the proposed deal, the Seagram stake in USA Networks would have been cut, published reports said.

Diller later downplayed speculation about a partnership.

As for Viacom, Furman Selz analyst Frederick Moran told the company, which already owns the fledgling United Paramount Network, is unlikely to be looking for a bigger broadcast entity.

Moran said Viacom Chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone has proven over time that he's more interested in content than distribution, as shown by his sale several years ago of Viacom's cable systems. Further, the analyst said, "UPN already represents a strong foothold, which give [Redstone] ample network exposure to complement his cable networks."

Written By David B. Wilkerson

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