Redstone named chairman emeritus as concerns about mogul’s health mount
Leslie Moonves has been named chairman of CBS Corp, replacing executive chairman Sumner Redstone as the head of the company’s board.
Redstone has been named chairman emeritus. His daughter Shari Redstone will continue as vice chair of the company. Moonves will still continue to serve as president and CEO of CBS.
“I am honored to accept the chairmanship of this great Company,” Moonves said in a statement Wednesday. “I want to thank Sumner for his guidance and strong support over all these years. It has meant the world to me. I am particularly grateful that Shari Redstone has agreed to continue in her role as Vice Chair of the Company. Her business acumen and knowledge of the media space remain very important to me as we move forward, and I greatly appreciate her support and invaluable counsel. I would also like to thank our excellent board of directors, who have contributed so significantly to our success. The people of CBS have achieved much together and I believe the best is yet to come.”
The move comes amid growing concerns about the health of the elder Redstone, who is 92. A Los Angeles superior court judge ruled in January to allow a medical examination of Redstone, who still serves as executive chairman of Viacom, as part of a legal petition by the mogul’s ex-girlfriend to have herself reinstated as his healthcare agent.
The suit claims that Redstone is unable to follow conversations and sign his own name. Responsibility for Redstone’s healthcare was taken from Manuela Herzer and given to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman in October. Dauman has repeatedly confirmed that Redstone remains in charge of his own decisions.
In January, a small investor in Viacom, Eric Jackson of New York hedge fund SpringOwl Asset Management, called for the resignations of Redstone, Dauman and the entirety of Viacom’s board — calling Redstone an “absent chair for too long.”
Through his family-owned company National Amusements, Redstone holds 80 percent ownership of CBS Corp. and a similar stake in Viacom. Moonves had, according to media reports, secured a private agreement with Shari Redstone to be named CBS chairman after her father’s death. So Wednesday’s move advances what was already expected to happen.
“I have been fortunate to work with Les and he has clearly established himself as a creative and effective leader who understands both the challenges and the opportunities that are shaping today’s media landscape,” Shari Redstone said in a statement. “I am sure he will make a great Chair and I look forward to working with him for many years to come.”
Daumon is expected to be part of a seven-member board that will oversee a trust that will inherit Redstone’s National Amusement shares. Moonves is not expected to be on that board.
Shari Redstone on Wednesday indicated in a statement her opposition to Daumon being named chairman of Viacom. That company, which includes movie studio Paramount and several cable networks including MTV and Comedy Central, has called a board meeting for Thursday.