It had long been thought that after a falling out with his daughter years ago that Viacom and CBS Corp chairman Sumner Redstone would hand over the keys to his empire to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman. But the 89-year-old Redstone told the Wall Street Journal that he’s still deciding on who will replace him to oversee his controlling interest in both companies, and that “my family will ultimately inherit the business”. “It hasn’t been decided yet who will be my successor. And Philippe knows it”, the mogul told the WSJ in an interview published today. “He knows that Shari might be my successor and it’s not a competitive race between them. We have to see what happens.” Shari Redstone, 58, controls 20% of National Amusements, the holding company that controls Viacom and CBS Corp, with her father holding the rest of the stake. Combined, their holdings in Viacom and CBS are worth about $3.5 billion, the paper says. “Philippe understands that my family is important and it could be Shari. I don’t say it will be. It could be either one or both,” Redstone said, adding later that it is likely Dauman would inherit his chairman role at Viacom and that CBS CEO Les Moonves would become chairman of CBS (though after the WSJ interview, Redstone emailed the paper to say that the boards of the companies will “ultimately decide who becomes chairman of each company”).
Shari Redstone runs the Redstone family’s movie theater chain business and serves as vice chair of CBS and Viacom. She fell out of favor with her father in 2008,when he said she was leaving the Viacom board as part of an agreement he had reached to buy out her shares of Viacom and CBS — and that she was no longer the company’s heir apparent. Shari Redstone denied such a deal existed. Since then she has focused on the theater business National Amusements; ran Midway Games until her dad sold his stake; and last year co-founded Advancit Capital, an early-stage investment firm that focuses on media, entertainment and technology companies.