Entrenched Corporate Leader: Sumner Redstone

Sumner Redstone, Chairman
Viacom (VIA), and throw in CBS (CBS)

How do you rank Sumner Redstone?  The split of CBS (CBS) and Viacom (VIA) is perceived so far as unsuccessful.  Sumner did get rid of Blockbuster and is still almost the entire owner of Midway Games (MWY).  Do we even discuss National Amusements?

He was born in May of 1923, so he is soon to be 84 years old.  He is still very active and very vocal in the company, and many that have left or forced out would say “too active and too vocal.”  Does it matter?  Redstone controls the majority of both Viacom and CBS.  He has been very vocal in the company not doing enough web deals and has taken out the hatchet on those who wouldn’t do deals.  This is even though VIA and CBS don’t have the currency to compete on many huge deals.  He fired Tom Cruise and has effectively gone out attacking the underprivileged and defenseless Scientologists out there, yet no one can touch him.

His daughter is the heir apparent, and has been in legal battles with a son.  None of it may matter.  When the voting for shares and for directions come up the votes are for technical reference only in both Viacome and at CBS.  The votes are essentially all locked up.  Shareholders in both companies might as well like him whether they want to or not.  There are only two ways this emperor leaves the throne: 1) feet first; 2) declared mentally incompetent.   Almost everyone agrees that he won’t retire, not willfully anyway.

I don’t want to sound like I am picking on anyone, so please don’t miscontrue this.  He may be one of the most entrenched corporate heads out there.

Jon C. Ogg
January 18, 2007