Sumner Not Ready To Go Quietly Into That Good Night

Sumner Redstone, Viacom major domo, was looking almost pekid in his reasoning for the sale of $233 million in Viacom and nonvoting CBS stock last week. Yesterday, another Viacom subsid, National Amusements, run by his daughter Shari, issued an almost paranoid defensive statement saying that the sale was not related to the company or performance, according to several news reportssumnerdaughter.jpg.

The statement was likely prompted by an article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal that said National Amusements had sold the shares to back a $1.6 billion loan that was used in part to help expand its exhibition business.

While the statement was not attributed to Sumner, Shari apparently felt it was necessary to issue a statement saying that was not the case, say today’s media reports.


“The implication that this stock sale was required by the operation and expansion of the company’s theater circuit is not accurate,” National Amusements said in the statement. “National Amusement’s recent sale of a portion of its Viacom and CBS nonvoting stock was the direct result of last week’s historic financial crisis, which included the precipitous drop in value of CBS and Viacom stock.”

Sumner has been mopping up for his daughter for the last year. Last summer, she was expected at the Herb Allen Sun Valley Media Conference, but she was a no-show, leading to all sorts of speculation that her own father was firing her as head of National Amusements.

In a CNBC television interview last summer, Redstone apparently reignited a long-running dispute with his daughter, Shari, over future control of the family media empire as father and daughter challenged each other’s version of events. The New York Times, which has an online relationship with CNBC, was provided a copy of the transcript upon request.

In the interview, Redstone said flatly that his daughter was no longer the company’s heir apparent and that she would leave the board as part of an agreement he had reached with her.

“Will she succeed you?” David Faber, a CNBC correspondent, asked on the program “Business Nation,” which he moderates.

Mr. Redstone replied, “No.”

“The reason she won’t succeed me is not she — that she isn’t qualified,” he added, comparing CBS and Viacom with National Amusements, the movie theater company where his daughter is president.

“But I have made it clear that good governance requires — these are two public companies, they’re not private like National — that two companies, the boards should decide who succeeds me. I’m not worried about it ’cause it’s going to be another 20, 30 years.”

She has worked tirelessly to maintain her position and her power over the billboard sales unit under her father’s watch.