Joe Ianniello, who ran CBS after longtime boss Les Moonves resigned in 2018 amid sexual assault allegations, is jumping into the SPAC market.
Ianniello, who left CBS not long after it merged with Viacom in 2019, is launching a media-focused special-purpose acquisition company that is looking to raise at least $300 million.
Dubbed Argus Capital Corp., the blank-check company is targeting media, entertainment and sports companies to merge and take them public, the firm said Thursday.
In its prospectus, Argus said it seeks to “partner with late-stage growth companies as well as mature companies with the potential to accelerate growth through organic and transaction-driven strategies.”
Media companies have been going nuts for SPACs this year, opting to become publicly traded companies through SPAC mergers, as opposed to striking partnerships with traditional financial institutions.
Digital news outlet BuzzFeed recently reached a deal to go public through a SPAC, as rivals Vice Media and Bustle hunt for similar deals. And larger media players like WarnerMedia and Discovery, which announced a merger deal in May, are expected to split off non-core assets that may be attractive to media-focused SPACs like Argus.
Joining Ianniello at Argus are a handful of former CBS employees, including ex-digital chief Marc DeBevoise and former comms boss Dana McClintock, who worked at the network for nearly three decades.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, Argus includes a team of nine executives who work from the company’s headquarters on Columbus Circle in New York City.
Execs on Argus’ management team, including Ianniello, are also investors in the SPAC, the report said. The former CBS boss certainly has plenty of money to throw around after receiving a massive $70 million payout, which he received for not being named the new head of ViacomCBS after the two companies merged.
Ianniello will be chairman of Argus’ board of directors while Debevoise will grab the reins as vice chairman. Ariliam Group CEO Alan Mnuchin will serve as a corporate director alongside Andy Sriubas, chief commercial officer of outdoor ad firm Outfront Media.
Other directors include Dana Beth Ardi, founder of human capital firm Corporate Anthropology Advisors, and Pooja Midha, chief growth officer at Comcast Advertising.
Argus has also tapped several strategic advisers, including well-known media guru Michael Kassan, founder of advisory firm MediaLink.