Sumner Redstone will not preside over Viacom’s annual meeting in Miami on Monday, marking the first time the company’s 91-year-old chairman has missed the gathering with shareholders.
A Viacom spokesman declined to elaborate on plans for the meeting. It’s understood that given Redstone’s age and health issues, the trek to Miami from his home in Los Angeles would be too taxing for him, especially as Viacom’s meetings in recent years have run under an hour with few questions from shareholders. A company spokesman, however, characterized Redstone’s health as “good.”
Redstone’s absence is sure to fuel renewed speculation about the state of his health, an issue that has repercussions for his controlling interests in Viacom and CBS Corp. The details of the plan to transfer Redstone’s shares to a family trust following his death has been the source of much discussion on Wall Street and in the media. Redstone is to turn 92 in May.
Monday’s meeting is schedule for 11:30 a.m. ET at the Miami Beach offices of Viacom International Media Networks, the hub of the company’s international activities. Redstone typically opens the sessions with his trademark enthusiasm about the company’s performance and its collection of assets.
This year, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman will make a roughly 10-minute presentation on the state of the company which has been under pressure because of ratings troubles at its core cablers and broader industry disruption. Over the past two weeks, the company has implemented across-the-board layoffs at its various units, further unsettling the ranks.
But as of Viacom’s Jan. 23 proxy statement, there were no shareholder proposals on the annual meeting’s agenda. The company’s 12 board members will all be up for re-election.
News of Redstone’s absence from the meeting was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.