CEO Leslie Moonves to Replace Sumner Redstone as CBS Executive Chairman

Sumner Redstone; Leslie Moonves / Getty Images
Sumner Redstone; Leslie Moonves / Getty Images

CEO Leslie Moonves is stepping into the role. Viacom, where Redstone remains executive chairman, said its board of directors will meet Thursday.

Sumner Redstone has resigned as executive chairman of CBS, with CEO Leslie Moonves stepping into the role, the company said Wednesday.

Redstone, 92, and in poor physical health, stepped down effective Tuesday and was appointed chairman emeritus. His daughter, Shari Redstone, will continue to serve as vice chairman, as she has since 2005.

Sumner Redstone is also executive chairman of Viacom, and there was speculation Wednesday that his role there would change, but Viacom did not respond to a request for comment. Viacom did, however, issue a press release announcing that its board of directors will meet Thursday.

In after-hours trading on Wednesday, Wall Street appeared to cheer Sumner Redstone’s decision, as CBS shares rose 4 percent. Viacom stock, beaten down for two years, spiked 8 percent in after-hours trading.

“I am honored to accept the chairmanship of this great company,” said Moonves. “I want to thank Sumner for his guidance and strong support over all these years. It has meant the world to me.”

Sumner Redstone’s role at both CBS and Viacom has been criticized in some circles for several months as the media mogul has been forced to fend off assertions that he is mentally impaired. Manuela Herzer, an ex-girlfriend seeking to be reinstated as Redstone’s health-care agent, has insisted he be examined by a doctor, and a judge as agreed.

In a recent SEC filing, Viacom revealed that Sumner Redstone was paid 85 percent less in its most recent fiscal year than he was in the year prior due to “reduced responsibilities,” and observers speculate his role at CBS also diminished over the course of a year.

Minutes after CBS announced the changes, Shari Redstone issued a statement about succession at both CBS and Viacom, and it seemed to suggest that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman will not be appointed board chair if Sumner Redstone steps down there.

“My father’s trust states his intention that I succeed him as (non-executive) chair at CBS and Viacom, and also names me as a trustee after his death,” Shari Redstone said Wednesday. “However, it is my firm belief that whoever may succeed my father as chair at each company should be someone who is not a trustee of my father’s trust or otherwise intertwined in Redstone family matters, but rather a leader with an independent voice.”

Click here for more.

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter
Paul Bond