Sumner Redstone is hitting back at media reports that suggest he will soon be stepping down as chairman of CBS and Viacom.
The 91-year-old media mogul released a statement on Thursday responding to speculation about who will succeed him following speculation that his daughter, Shari Redstone, 61, is next in line for his $6.4 billion empire.
“Decisions about who will succeed me as chairman of CBS and Viacom will be made by the Boards of the respective companies, and not by any individual,” he said. “Despite press reports to the contrary, such decisions have not yet been made.”
There has been mounting concern over his health lately, with reports that he can’t walk, needs a feeding tube, can’t speak, is “pretty out to it.” However, Redstone, who turns 92 later this month, vowed that he “will continue to make all such decisions” for the companies.
Read the statement from Redstone to TheWrap via his attorney Leah Bishop of Loeb & Loeb LLP below.
“As I have always said, I believe strongly in professional management and appropriate corporate governance. Decisions about who will succeed me as chairman of CBS and Viacom will be made by the Boards of the respective companies, and not by any individual.
Despite press reports to the contrary, such decisions have not yet been made. After my death, my ownership interest in the companies will be overseen by a group of seven trustees who will make fiduciary decisions based solely on the best interests of the beneficiaries of the trust. Until that time, I will continue to make all such decisions.”
Redstone’s statement appears to be in direct response to an investigative report published by Vanity Fair on Wednesday from its June issue, which focused on his succession plans.
Below are the most interesting revelations from Redstone’s email exchange with contributing editor William D. Cohan.
He’s still fit and active — allegedly
“I still get up at 4:30/5 a.m. every day I ride my bike and go to the pool and get a haircut. I’m really into watching sports. I love baseball of course,” Sumner said. However, Viacom designated C.O.O. Tom Dooley said Sumner does not walk well or easily and has round-the-clock staff to help him move. “He can’t run out of a building,” Dooley explained. Other insiders told Vanity Fair that Redstone needs a feeding tube, can’t speak, is “pretty out to it,” and “looks like death.”
Never going to step down
“You should know that I am never retiring!!!” wrote the 91-year-old.
Always watches the stocks
“While I confess to being happier on the days that the share prices go up, I remain very pleased with the performance and management teams of both companies,” Redstone said, when asked if he was concerned by recent struggles including cord cutters and the loss of Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Jon Stewart.
“There will always be short-term challenges, but the futures of both Viacom and CBS are extremely bright. As I have said many times I believe in professional management, and in Philippe [Dauman, C.E.O. of Viacom] and Les [Moonves, C.E.O. of CBS] I have supremely talented executives who are more than qualified to lead the companies that I have built and create long term value.”
Still talks With Viacom Chief Philippe Dauman and CBS Honcho Les Moonves
“I maintain active interest in business and particularly in matters concerning Viacom and CBS, including frequent contact with Philippe and Les about important issues,” Redstone confirmed, adding that he plans to attend the CBS annual meeting in New York on May 21.
Regrets? He’s had a few, but won’t reveal them
“I have no regrets that I would like to share,” Redstone said.
He also won’t talk about his interesting personal relationships
Asked about the bizarre triangle between 43-year-old girlfriend Sydney Holland and former girlfriend, 50-year-old Manuela Herzer, and if they are beneficiaries, he replied: “How I met Sydney is not important. What is important is what a great person she is and how much I love her. I have known Manuela for over 20 years. She and her children are family to me. Her house in LA is 5 minutes away from my house and I get to see her frequently.
“Manuela is one of the smartest women I have ever met. As for my estate plan, that is personal,” he added. Nor would he comment on whether they will run his foundation in the event of his death, which he of course insists will never happen.
He still compiles all emails and faxes
“It has always been my practice to dictate correspondence, which I continue to do through assistants and others designated by me,” Redstone said, confirming that he understands all legal documents he signs.