“Boardroom drama is intensifying at Viacom Inc. amid questions about the health of Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone, as Wall Street ponders what the struggling media giant might look like without him,” reports The Wall Street Journal. [Note: The WSJ is behind a pay wall and might charge you to read this piece.]
About the health of Redstone, 92, the article says: “Several ministrokes have left Mr. Redstone with very restricted lower jaw movement, making it hard for him to talk, said a person familiar with his health. He can speak a few sentences at a time, and then pauses to swallow, so he can be understood, the person said.”
And: “People close to him say that Mr. Redstone remains mentally sharp enough to guide Viacom, owner of cable networks like Nickelodeon and MTV, as the $18 billion company goes through one of its toughest stretches ever. Viacom has lost $12.2 billion in market value this year on concerns about sinking TV ratings and the future of pay television.”
Possible successors to Redstone include Mr. Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone, Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman and CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. Redstone controls CBS as well as Viacom.
Says The WSJ: “Documents relating to Mr. Redstone’s divorce in 2002 grant that Ms. Redstone will become chairman of Viacom when Mr. Redstone dies or is incapacitated, according to people familiar with the matter.
“Making matters more complicated: Mr. Dauman has a clause in his contract that would allow him to walk away from his post if he isn’t made chairman upon Mr. Redstone’s death or incapacitation, people familiar with the matter said. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves’s contract has a similar provision.”