Viacom Exploring Plan to Split in Two Parts

Viacom Inc. (VIAB) on Wednesday said it is exploring the division of its business into separate publicly traded companies to boost the value of its shares.

The company plans to announce further details regarding the possible separation in the second quarter of 2005, it said in a statement.

Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone (search) said he had been considering various alternatives to boost the value of Viacom's stock for several months and will now be exploring a possible separation of the company's businesses with the board of directors.

The differing "growth characteristics" of its various businesses, including top cable programming networks MTV and Nickelodeon, film assets Paramount Studios (search), and the Infinity Broadcasting (search) radio network has hampered its ability to receive full market value, Redstone said in a statement.

"We believe that a separation of our businesses into distinct and strong operating entities would allow us to optimize our capital structure and create unique investments that are more appealing to investors with different objectives," Redstone said in a statement.