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Inside Move

Redstone, wife divorcing

NEW YORK — The wife of Viacom chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone, whose company is currently involved in a $37 billion deal to acquire CBS Inc., has filed for divorce and is seeking $3 billion, her attorney said Sunday.

Phyllis Redstone, Sumner’s wife of 52 years, filed for divorce in a Boston court, a Viacom spokesman said. In a statement, the company said the suit was a personal matter that would have no effect on Viacom’s proposed merger with CBS.

Sumner Redstone, 75, was worth about $6.4 billion when Forbes magazine compiled its most recent list of America’s 400 richest people in October 1998.

Phyllis Redstone previously filed for divorce in November 1993 in the midst of a high-stakes takeover battle Viacom was waging with home shopping network QVC for control of Paramount Pictures. She withdrew the suit three weeks later. Viacom acquired Paramount for about $10 billion.

Irving Helman, Mrs. Redstone’s attorney, confirmed a New York Post front-page report on Sunday that she is seeking $3 billion. A CBS spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

“The Redstone family interests in Viacom’s parent company, National Amusements Inc., are structured in such a way that the personal matters between Mr. and Mrs. Redstone will not affect the ownership, control or management of Viacom, nor will they affect the merger with CBS,” the Viacom said in a statement. A spokesman declined further comment.

Sumner Redstone owns 67% of Viacom stock through National Amusements.

“In the interest of his family, Mr. Redstone chooses not to reply publicly to any allegations, no matter how false or misleading they may be. This is a personal matter which Mr. Redstone intends to resolve in a private way. Mr. Redstone and both his children are united on all matters affecting the family’s business interests,” said George Abrams, Sumner Redstone’s longtime attorney, in the Viacom statement.

The suit has been sealed by the court.