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CBS Weighs Succession for Chairman Redstone Annually

CBS Corp. said its non-management directors consider succession planning for Chairman Sumner Redstone annually.

The New York-based media company made the disclosure in a regulatory filing today, adding that it doesn’t maintain a written succession plan for Redstone, 87. CBS filed the statements in response to inquiries from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regarding its 10-K for 2009.

The question of succession for Redstone, chairman and controlling shareholder of CBS and Viacom Inc., came to the forefront in 2008 when he battled publicly over the issue with his daughter Shari Redstone, 56. At the time, he said Shari, vice chairman at Viacom and CBS, wouldn’t succeed him. He backtracked in a March interview on CNBC, saying his daughter would be “great,” though the decision would be up to the board.

Redstone, who often claims he will live forever, bought CBS Corp. in 1999, then split his media empire into Viacom and CBS five years ago.

CBS, run by Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves, fell 49 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $14.74 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 4.9 percent this year.

The SEC asked CBS for more information after the company said in its latest 10-K that the loss of key executives and employees could disrupt the company’s businesses and “adversely” affect its revenue. CBS, which owns the most- watched U.S. broadcast network, said it will include the disclosure about succession planning in securities filings beginning with its 10-K for 2010.

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