"Nepotism is OK so long as it's kept in the family," as Groucho Marx once quipped.

The wit and wisdom of the only true Marx was clearly uppermost in the mind of Viacom's octogenarian chairman/ceo Sumner M Redstone, who plans to tell his board of directors next week he is appointing his daughter Shari as vice-chairman of the media mammoth.

Given that Redstone commands 71% of the company's voting shares, boardroom and shareholder approval of Shari's anointing is a mere formality. But it would be a mistake to write her off as just another familial shoe-in.

Those close to the company say she has proved herself a quick study and tough negotiator. Nor is she afraid to confront her autocratic dad. As she herself put it in an interview earlier this year: "Over time he [Redstone] has actually started to listen to me, which is the real accomplishment."

Redstone is on record as saying that Shari will probably succeed him as chairman and controlling shareholder "after I'm gone".

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff