The protracted legal battle within the Redstone family, which controls Viacom and CBS Corp., appears to finally be over, but not before patriarch Sumner Redstone faced a court showdown today with his granddaughter.
“A settlement ending the bitter battle over media mogul Sumner Redstone’s mental competency and the future of Viacom Inc. received the blessing of a Massachusetts judge [today] — but only after an intervention to mend a rift within the famously fractious Redstone family,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “Rather than quickly signing off on the corporate settlement involving Viacom, Massachusetts Probate Judge George Phelan prodded lawyers in an effort to protect the interests of Keryn Redstone, a granddaughter of the ailing 93-year-old media mogul.”
The Times adds: “Keryn Redstone, 34, is one of five beneficiaries of Sumner Redstone’s trust that holds the controlling stock in two media companies, Viacom and CBS Corp. Sumner Redstone created the trust more than a decade ago with the intention of leaving his valuable shares to his five grandchildren.
“The trust was designed to treat his grandchildren equally — but a squabble broke out as to whether that would happen.”
As the family has hashed out its legal issues, Keryn Redstone has found herself on the opposite side of a series of disputes involving her powerful aunt, Shari Redstone, who will eventually oversee the trust with six other trustees, the Times notes.
“Keryn Redstone’s Los Angeles lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, had argued that tensions within the Redstone family had already put Keryn Redstone at a disadvantage,” the story reports. “This spring, a planned gift of $6 million to Keryn Redstone was abruptly cut out of Sumner Redstone’s personal estate plan. Keryn Redstone has said that her attempts to visit her grandfather at his Beverly Park mansion were likewise rebuffed.”
Robert Klieger, a lawyer representing Sumner Redstone, proposed a resolution ensuring equal treatment for Keryn in any trust distributions. “During an afternoon recess, Klieger, O’Donnell and other attorneys hammered out a deal to clarify a section of the trust to make sure that Keryn Redstone would be on an equal footing with her sister and Shari Redstone’s children, according to Mike Lawrence, a spokesman for Sumner Redstone,” the Times reports.
Sumner Redstone also agreed to meet with his granddaughter.
“As part of Friday’s agreement, Keryn Redstone withdrew her objections to the settlement reached in the Viacom boardroom showdown,” the Times adds.