Casting Redstones in Flap


The claws are out in the growing dispute between Viacom and CBS Corp. chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone and his daughter, vice chairman Shari Redstone, with both trading barbs last week in written statements.

Sumner Redstone, who reportedly is trying to force his daughter to resign from the Viacom board, fired the first shot, sending a letter to Forbes magazine July 20, claiming that although he would be willing to keep the situation as it is, he would be willing to buy out his daughter's 20% interest in Viacom and CBS “as long as the price is acceptable.”

The Redstones have been increasingly at odds ever since Shari, who heads up the family's National Amusements theater chain, became more involved in Viacom's and CBS's operations. She was named nonexecutive VP of both companies in 2005.

Redstone also threw in a slight dig to his daughter, reminding his children that he gave them their stock in Viacom and CBS and that it was he “who built these great media companies with the help of both companies.”

In a statement, Shari Redstone reminded her father that she and her brother Brent (who had his own falling out with dad last year) received their first shares of National Amusements — which holds the family interests in Viacom and CBS — from her grandfather and Sumner's father Mickey. She added she has no desire to sell her shares.

But she hinted that if Sumner did desire to buy out her interest, it will cost him. Shari noted in the statement that National Amusements is worth about $8 billion — that number came from Brent's law suit, since settled, against his father last year. At that valuation, Shari Redstone's 20% stake in the company would be worth $1.6 billion.