Viacom in search of small deals
The cable network said it does not need to recombine with CBS as it looks for smaller acquisitions.
By Paul R. La Monica, CNNMoney.com editor at large

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The new chief executive officer of Viacom told investors Tuesday that it is in the hunt for small acquisitions in order to boost its presence online.

Philippe Dauman, who was named CEO earlier this month following the ouster of former CEO Tom Freston, said he planned to accelerate the expansion of its digital assets.

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Dauman said Viacom was looking to make small deals at "the right price" and that Viacom was unlikely to spend more than a couple of hundred million dollars on an individual purchase.

He made these remarks at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York.

Shares of Viacom (up $0.11 to $36.61, Charts) rose less than 1 percent during afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Viacom, which owns cable networks MTV and Nickelodeon as well as the Paramount movie studio, has been criticized by some on Wall Street for moving too slowly to embrace the Internet.

Shares of Viacom have been an industry laggard this year, underperforming when compared to rivals Walt Disney (up $0.44 to $30.50, Charts) and News Corp. (down $0.19 to $19.73, Charts)

Both Disney and News Corp. have been praised for their digital strategies.

Viacom has also fared worse than CBS (up $0.08 to $28.75, Charts), which was spun-off from Viacom in January.

Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom, said earlier this month that frustration with Viacom's stock price was one reason for Freston's departure.

But Dauman said that he felt investors were not giving Viacom enough credit for the brand-name content it owns.

"When I look at this company, I think it is not well understood yet," he said. "When I look at what we have today, I see opportunity."

Dauman added that he did not think Viacom would need to recombine with CBS in order to reignite growth at the company.

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves also ruled out the possibility of CBS and Viacom getting back together during his presentation at the Goldman conference Tuesday.

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More from the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference:

Yahoo sees weakness, stock tumbles

Time Warner confident to be online media giant Top of page

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