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Report: Shari Redstone Back in Succession Talk at Viacom Deadline, WSJ

Viacom and CBS Corp. Chairman Sumner Redstone rekindled speculation about who will eventually take over for him in an interview published today in The Wall Street Journal.

Deadline.com reports that Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone, is back in the picture after being out of it for a while. The assumption had been that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman would be the successor to Sumner Redstone, after reports of a falling out between Sumner and Shari.

“The 89-year-old Redstone told The Wall Street Journal that he’s still deciding on who will replace him to oversee his controlling interest in both companies, and that ‘my family will ultimately inherit the business,’” the piece reports.

Redstone added: “It hasn’t been decided yet who will be my successor. And Philippe knows it. ... He knows that Shari might be my successor and it’s not a competitive race between them. We have to see what happens.”

The report notes: “Shari Redstone, 58, controls 20% of National Amusements, the holding company that controls Viacom and CBS Corp, with her father holding the rest of the stake. Combined, their holdings in Viacom and CBS are worth about $3.5 billion, the paper says.”

Redstone says in the interview that Dauman is likely to become chairman of Viacom while CBS CEO Les Moonves is likely to step up to chairman of CBS Corp., but he later clarified that the boards of the two companies will “ultimately decide who becomes chairman of each company.”

“Shari Redstone runs the Redstone family’s movie theater chain business and serves as vice chair of CBS and Viacom,” Deadline reports. “She fell out of favor with her father in 2008, when he said she was leaving the Viacom board as part of an agreement he had reached to buy out her shares of Viacom and CBS -- and that she was no longer the company’s heir apparent. Shari Redstone denied such a deal existed.”