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Viacom Seen Likely to Cut Dividend 50% to Free Up Cash for Debt

  • Board said to meet next week, hire banks to review payout
  • Reduction would free up $300m in cash to pay down debt

The odds are growing that Viacom Inc. will halve its dividend next week to help pay down debt, a move that the company long resisted under former Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman.

The media giant, which owns cable networks like MTV and Nickelodeon, normally declares a quarterly dividend by early August but hasn’t done so since a 40-cent-a-share payout announced in May. Viacom last raised its dividend in May 2015. Board members are meeting next week for a strategic review, according to people familiar with the matter, and the company is now projected to reduce the dividend to 20 cents on Sept. 15, according to Bloomberg data.