×

Media Shareholder Mario Gabelli Calls For Viacom, CBS To Address Sumner Redstone’s Health

UPDATED: Viacom released a statement Wednesday afternoon from William Schwartz, chairman of its governance and nominating committee: “As has been widely and publicly disclosed, Mr. Redstone’s physicians have publicly attested that he is mentally capable, and this information is consistent with other medical and other information available to me.”

Mario Gabelli, founder of an investment firm that holds around 10% of voting shares in Viacom, said Wednesday that the media conglomerate and  it sister outlet, CBS Corp.,  should provide shareholders with more information about the health of the companies’ chairman, Sumner Redstone.

Redstone has become the subject of gossip lately after a former romantic interest, Manuela Herzer, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles probate court suggesting the media mogul is impaired. Redstone controls both Viacom and CBS Corp. through ownership stakes held via National Amusements, a private movie-exhibition company. His attorneys have dismissed Herzer’s claims, and a judge had postponed an investigation into Redstone’s mental competence until early next year.

“I didn’t like the fact that the company hasn’t responded to the discussion,” Gabelli told Variety. “I felt it was just unfair for all of the shareholders not to have a public statement one way or the other.” Gabelli said he represented about 2000 clients, some of whom have been investors in Viacom and/or CBS for more than two decades. Gabelli’s GAMCO Investors Inc. is believed to be the second-largest holder of voting shares in Viacom. He previously made remarks to Reuters.

He thinks the companies are becoming weighted down by press speculation about Redstone’s health.  Gabelli said he reached out to Philippe Dauman, Viacom’s chief executive officer, Wednesday, as well as other Viacom executives to gain greater clarity on the matter.

A spokesman for CBS Corp. declined to comment. A Viacom spokesman could not be reached for immediate comment.

Gabelli’s comments – he also took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction – suggest the controversy surrounding Redstone’s health is gaining more notice on Wall Street.  Redstone, once the face of Viacom to Wall Street and the media, has had a diminished presence in recent months. He no longer speaks on investor calls for CBS and Viacom and has largely retreated from public view.

Redstone does not manage either company on a day-to-day basis. That task is left to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves. But he does deal with each company’s board of directors, and corporate-governance experts suggest the two media concerns would be obligated to make public any health issues that could materially impair Redstone’s ability to make decisions.

Gabelli said he was less concerned about the future of both Viacom and CBS in the event of the 92-year-old Redstone’s passing. A change of control among the Redstone family would be “a non-event” for Viacom and CBS, Gabelli said, as Sumner Redstone’s holdings in both companies would automatically go into a trust governed by Redstone family associates as well as Shari Redstone, Sumner Redstone’s daughter, and Tyler Korff, a grandson.

Gabelli said he has no greater insight into Redstone’s condition than anyone else. He was invited to Redstone’s 90th birthday a few years ago, he said, but “I could not make it.”

More Biz

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

  • Weapons Cache

    D.A. Files 64 Charges in Bel-Air Weapons Stockpile Case

    The L.A. County District Attorney’s office has filed 64 counts against Girard Saenz, the man who allegedly kept a stockpile of more than 1,000 weapons at a Bel-Air home linked to the Getty family. Saenz is accused of illegal possession of assault weapons, transferring handguns without a dealer license, possession of short-barreled shotguns, and possession [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series

    Fox Sees Primetime, Sports Ad Gains As TV Upfront Wraps

    Fox Corporation is the latest to benefit from stronger-than-expected trends in TV ad spending, as the company notched strong gains in advertising commitments for its next cycle of programming – its first since selling off a large chunk of its media assets to Walt Disney. Ad demand was stronger than many executives anticipated, according to [...]

  • BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior

    BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior VP of Licensing

    BMI today announced that David Levin has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Licensing, effective immediately. In his newly expanded role, Levin is responsible for all of BMI’s domestic licensing and revenue generation, encompassing radio, television, digital media, cable, satellite and general licensing.  Levin, who will oversee teams in New York and Nashville, reports [...]

  • Warner Music Group Logo

    Warner Music Acquires Musical Theater Indie First Night Records

    Warner Music Group has acquired First Night Record, an independent record label for West End and Broadway musical theatre cast recordings. The company will be overseen by WMG’s Arts Music Division, led by President Kevin Gore. First Night co-founder John Craig will join the Arts Music team under a multi-year consulting agreement to identify and record musical theatre productions in [...]

  • Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House

    Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House for Local Residents Before Permit Review Tuesday

    If nothing else, the producers of Woodstock 50 are persistent. After two permit applications to hold the troubled festival at the Vernon Downs racetrack in Upstate New York were rejected by the town of Vernon codes office, the producers and venue owner Jeffrey Gural today invited the local community “to embrace the Festival’s spirit of [...]

  • ILM Star Wars The Force Awakens

    ILM to Open Latest Effects Facility in Sydney, Australia

    Sydney, Australia, is to be home to Industrial Light & Magic’s fifth production hub. The Disney-owned special effects company currently has facilities in San Francisco, Vancouver, London and Singapore. The decision to open the Sydney outpost was announced Monday local time by executive creative director and head of ILM Rob Bredow, ILM executive Luke Hetherington, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content