Both Fortune magazine and the Wall Street Journal are reporting a major falling out between Sumner Redstone and his daughter and heir apparent, Shari. The reports say she is expected to quit the board of Viacom and perhaps CBS Corporation as well. It was just the beginning of this year that Sumner reached a settlement to buy his son, Brent, out of the family business empire (2/5/07 RBR #24).
Despite a statement from a spokesperson for Shari Redstone denying that she has any intention of leaving the Viacom or CBS boards, the WSJ insists that negotiations are underway on a settlement to separate Shari Redstone from the family media empire. One option is reported to be having her acquire the privately held theater chain, National Amusements, which launched the family fortune. She runs the operation and has reportedly been at odds with her father on its future direction.
SmartMedia observation: If Sumner is on the outs with both of his children, who will be waiting in the wings when the 84-year-old is no longer able to run the empire himself? His 45-year-old second wife has not, at least until now, had any involvement in the business. How are his relations with his grandchildren? Any media-moguls-in-training there?