Redstone seen resigning as Viacom chair after stepping down at CBS

Thu Feb 4, 2016 2:26am EST
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By Jessica Toonkel and Lisa Richwine

NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Viacom's board appears poised to replace Sumner Redstone as chairman on Thursday, after the aging mogul stepped down from his executive role at the top of CBS, but it was not apparent who would get his job at Viacom as Redstone's daughter made clear she did not want CEO Philippe Dauman to succeed her father.

Redstone, 92 and in poor health, unexpectedly resigned as executive chairman of CBS on Wednesday, and Viacom said its directors would meet the next day, without saying what they would discuss.

Redstone's decision to become chairman emeritus at CBS was seen as the beginning of a new phase at two famous media companies under pressure from investors. CBS owns Showtime as well as the eponymous television channel, while Viacom is home to movie studio Paramount and television channel MTV, among others.

Investors said that they expected Redstone to stand down at Viacom, too.

Daughter Shari Redstone said that both companies needed an "independent voice" as chair who was not involved in her family's personal matters or on her father's trust. That excluded herself and fellow trust member Dauman.

CBS said Redstone would be replaced by Leslie Moonves, its president and chief executive since 2006.

Shares of CBS Corp were up 4.6 percent in after-hours market trading, while those of Viacom Inc rose 10 percent. Viacom shares are down by a third in the last year and CBS shares are down 15 percent.

Billionaire Redstone created a media empire nearly from scratch and was the dominating force until recently, clearly in control at shareholder meetings and on conference calls.   Continued...

Les Moonves and Sumner Redstone.   REUTERS/Files