Is there a behind-the-scenes battle taking place over who’ll have the juice at Viacom and CBS after Sumner Redstone, who controls both companies through his ownership of National Amusements, leaves the stage? That’s what Vanity Fair says this week: There’s a lot of “jockeying for position as the king fades,” and it pits Redstone’s daughter, Shari, against his live-in girlfriend Sydney Holland and his former girlfriend Manuela Herzer. (The magazine posted his email correspondence here.)
But The New York Post says Shari will take charge.
Who’s right? Neither, Redstone says in a statement today:
As I have always said, I believe strongly in professional management and appropriate corporate governance. Decisions about who will succeed me as chairman of CBS and Viacom will be made by the Boards of the respective companies, and not by any individual. Despite press reports to the contrary, such decisions have not yet been made. After my death, my ownership interest in the companies will be overseen by a group of seven trustees who will make fiduciary decisions based solely on the best interests of the beneficiaries of the trust. Until that time, I will continue to make all such decisions.
We reported in February that Redstone’s National Amusements interests will be controlled by a trust charged with managing the shares on behalf of his five grandchildren and future generations. It starts with three independent trustees: Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, David Andelman (a CBS director) and George Abrams (a Viacom director and Redstone’s longtime attorney). Two additional members belong to the family: Shari Redstone — who’s Vice Chair of the Viacom and CBS boards — as well as one of the media mogul’s grandchildren. In addition, each side can name an additional trustee, bringing the total to seven.