Viacom's Octogenarian Boss May Loosen Grip on Tiller

22 March 2005

Viacom, America's second largest media conglomerate, currently in the throes of bipolar uncertainty [WAMN: 18-Mar-05], may soon bid adieu to 81-year old founder/chairman/ceo Sumner M Redstone, depending on the outcome of the goup's planned demerger into separate independent cable and broadcast entities.

Redstone has already undertaken to stand down by 2007 - possibly handing the position of chairman to his daughter Shari whom he is seemingly grooming to step into his shoes [WAMN: 14-Jan-05].

However, on Friday he signalled he might depart earlier. "I may accelerate giving up the role of ceo ... once both [demerged] companies are up and running," he said.

As to remaining ceo of both companies following a demerger: "There are no circumstances under which I am going to delay giving up the ceo position."

That role (or roles), following a successful spinoff, would go respectively to Viacom's present joint-chief operating officers Tom Freston and Les Moonves.

Redstone made no mention of renouncing his position as chairman.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff