Mogul Sumner Redstone may be having a hard time letting go of his empire.
After what seemed to be an initial blessing on the sale of a minority stake in Viacom’s movie studio Paramount to CEO Philippe Dauman, Redstone later told Paramount head Brad Grey and others that he doesn’t want to sell, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.
In February, Dauman said Viacom was in talks to sell a noncontrolling stake in Paramount, aiming to finalize a deal by the end of June.
The plan to sell part of Paramount was Dauman’s first major initiative in the position of chairman, after Redstone stepped down from that post at both CBS and Viacom earlier this year. Viacom has battled television troubles as audiences migrate to online video and households scale back pay-TV subscriptions, while Paramount has been hit by two costly flops — “Zoolander 2” and “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” — this year.
Redstone remains the controlling shareholder of both CBS and Viacom, through super-voting stock that gives him about 80 percent control.
Dauman visited Redstone’s home in February to ask about the sale plan, and heard the mogul tell give him a verbal yes, according to WSJ, which reported Dauman told the Viacom board that a nurse had also seen him agree to the idea. But after it was announced, Redstone expressed displeasure about the possible sale to people including Paramount head Grey, the report said.
“I don’t want to sell Paramount,” Redstone repeated to the unnamed people cited in WSJ’s report.
Viacom declined to comment to TheWrap on the report.
Redstone’s mental capacity and ability to oversee the media conglomerates he build has been the question of an unrelated lawsuit filed by his former companion, Manuela Herzer. As part of that suit, Dauman has stated in court documents that Redstone is engaged and attentive.
The WSJ report also state that Redstone voiced no opposition to the sale when he was part of the board’s coversations about it.