Published On: Wed, Feb 4th, 2015

Speculations Swirl over Future of Sumner Redstone’s Media Empire

Sumner Redstone Honored On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

There is much speculation about what the future holds for the corporate assets of Sumner Redstone, whose media empire spans entertainment giants Viacom and CBS.

While bits and pieces of the plans have come out over the years, there’s no public document that spells out in detail who will control his shares when he leaves the stage, Deadline.com said.

New concerns arose regarding the health of the 91-year-old media mogul when he was a no-show for Viacom’s latest earnings call in late January. Redstone sounded feeble during the company’s earlier conference call in November, according to the New York Post.

It’s unclear who will run the trust as Redstone has battled publicly with both his children, his ex-wives and with various executives who appeared to challenge his power, the Post said.

Sources told Deadline.com that the interests of Redstone’s theater chain, National Amusements, will be controlled by a five-person trust. But it would manage the shares on behalf of his five grandchildren and future generations — not his two children, Shari and Brent, said the website.

All of the trustees are lawyers, and they’d be divided into two groups. Three are not members of the Redstone family, and therefore deemed to be independent trustees: They are Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, David Andelman (a CBS director), and George Abrams (a Viacom director, and Redstone’s long-time attorney), the report said.

The two additional members belong to the family: Shari Redstone — who’s National Amusements’ President (she owns the 20% that Sumner doesn’t have) and Vice Chair of the Viacom and CBS boards — as well as one of the media mogul’s grandchildren, according to the website.

There’s no designated chairman, and all decisions would be made by a majority vote. If an independent member leaves, then the other independent members would pick a replacement. Same thing among the family: The remaining family member would pick another trustee from among Redstone’s descendants, Deadline.com said.

As for Brent: Sumner bought out his son’s one-sixth stake in National Amusements in 2007 to settle Brent’s suit claiming that he had been unfairly shunted aside in the family business. But his children are included among the beneficiaries of the trust, said the report.

Once Sumner goes, then Dauman likely would pick up the chairman title at Viacom, with CBS chief Les Moonves doing the same at his company. Their contracts say that they don’t have to report to someone other than Redstone, the website said.

Technically speaking, though, nothing else would change at the media powers. Each company’s board would remain intact, and the majority shareholder would still be National Amusements. The only difference is that control of National Amusements would shift from Sumner to his trust, Deadline.com said.

Sumner Redstone, born Sumner Murray Rothstein, has a net worth of about $6.1 billion, according to Forbes.

 

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