Sumner Redstone shuts out Shari

Viacom chief claims exit has been agreed to

Viacom czar Sumner Redstone, who recently resolved a conflict with his daughter Shari that flared up last summer, is reasserting that she will not automatically succeed him as chair of Viacom.

In an interview that aired Thursday on CNBC and was teased in Thursday’s New York Times, correspondent David Faber asks Sumner Redstone point blank if Shari Redstone will succeed him and oversee both Viacom and CBS.

“No,” the mogul replied. “The reason she won’t succeed me is not … that she isn’t qualified.” But, he said, he’s made it clear that as Viacom and CBS are public companies, unlike the privately held exhib National Amusements, which Shari Redstone runs, “The boards should decide who succeeds me. I’m not worried about it ’cause it’s gonna be another 20, 30 years.”

The 85-year-old chairman adds that final talks are being held about buying out his daughter’s interest in CBS and Viacom, with Shari Redstone receiving control of National Amusements. Under that scenario, Shari Redstone would also leave the boards of Viacom and CBS.

A Viacom rep stressed that the buyout is not a done deal, contrary to the Times’ characterization.

The exit strategy has seemed likely to some on Wall Street analysts since rumors of tensions between Sumner and Shari Redstone first surfaced about a year ago.

Shari Redstone’s rep, Nancy Sterling, told the Times that Sumner Redstone’s comments were “absolutely inaccurate.” She added, “There is no final agreement.”

She did acknowledge, however, that negotiations were under way.

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