The claws are out in the growing dispute between Viacom and CBS chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone and his daughter, vice chairman Shari Redstone, with both trading barbs 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 Friday night 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’ operations. Shari Redstone was named nonexecutive vice chairman 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 the boards of both companies.”
Shari Redstone, through a spokeswoman, crafted her own response shortly after. In the statement, Shari 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.
“It is unfortunate that Sumner has chosen to publicize what Shari had hoped would remain a private family matter,” the statement said. “Despite Sumner's statements in Forbes, Shari has no desire to be ‘bought out’ of National.”
However, she hinted that if Sumner did desire to buy out her interest, it will cost him. She noted in the statement that National Amusements was valued at about $8 billion -- that number came from Brent’s lawsuit, since settled, against his father last year. At that valuation, Shari Redstone’s 20% stake in the company would be worth $1.6 billion.