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Viacom’s Reynolds ankles finance post

Exec to assist in search for replacement

NEW YORK — Viacom chief financial officer Fred Reynolds is stepping down from his post for personal reasons and relocating with his family to Southern California where he’ll take up another, as yet undefined, position within the giant media conglom.

Reynolds, 50, was formerly CFO of CBS Corp., which merged with Viacom last year. He took the top finance post when the companies combined and Viacom CFO George Smith retired. Reynolds came to CBS via Westinghouse and PepsiCo, alongside former Westinghouse/CBS topper Michael Jordan. Reynolds worked closely with Mel Karmazin, who ultimately took the reins at CBS and is now Viacom’s prexy and chief operating officer.

“Fred and I have discussed this move and concluded that it would not be practical for him or the company to move the CFO function to California. As a result, Fred will be giving up the position of CFO, and we will work together to create a new role for Fred in the company that is compatible with his new home” in Santa Barbara, Karmazin said in a memo to Viacom execs.

Reynolds will help oversee the search for his successor, which Karmazin expects to take several months. Wall Streeters speculated that an investment banker may fill the post. Former Walt Disney CFO Richard Nanula’s name is perpetually in play, particularly since his new online sports venture has been having a rocky time along with the rest of the Internet sector.

Inhouse, it’s not clear if the divisional CFOs are up to the job, one Wall Streeter said. He thinks Farid Suleman, former chief financial officer of Viacom’s Infinity, who was just promoted to the post of Infinity CEO, may be a possibility.

Viacom shares were unchanged Monday at $48.50.

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