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Viacom’s Sumner Redstone, 91, hits back at succession planning rumours

Sumner Redstone, chairman of National Amusements, with his daughter, Shari Redstone
Image: Press Association

Nonagenarian Viacom and CBS chairman Sumner Redstone has been forced to release a statement that he has no plans to retire, following media speculation he is in poor health.

Redstone added that despite press reports to the contrary, no decision on his successor had been made.

Many believe the billionaire has anointed his daughter, Shari Redstone, heir apparent, but a statement attributed to Redstone, and distributed by Sard Verbinnen & Co, stated that any decision on succession would be made by the boards of CBS and Viacom, rather than an individual.

Redstone’s father founded theatre company National Amusements, which today controls CBS and Viacom, in 1936. Today it operates more than 1,500 movie screens across the globe.

Despite being due to turn 92 years old later this month, Redstone is the chairman and CEO of National Amusements. He is chairman of CBS and Viacom.

Shari is president of National Amusements, and also runs Advancit Capital, which invests in new media.

Redstone stated: "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 son, Brent Redstone, sued the family in 2006 over the running of its business interests, arguing that his sister was favoured over him and that he had been shut out of the company affairs. It was settled out of court the following year.

Currently Sumner Redstone lives with his 43-year-old girlfriend, Sydney Holland. He has been married twice, with both ending in divorce.

Redstone added in his statement that he feels strongly about professional management and strong corporate governance.

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