Redstone Is Making Own Medical Decisions, Viacom CEO Says

  • `He fully in charge of his own health care,' Dauman says
  • Executive chastises media for coverage of aging billionaire

Speculation Grows Over State of Redstone's Health

Aging media mogul Sumner Redstone is mentally sharp and is making his own decisions on medical care, Viacom Inc. Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman said at an investor conference in New York.

“He’s fully in charge of his own health-care decisions,” Dauman said  Monday at the annual UBS Global Media & Communications Conference. “His physical ailments require him to be under medical supervision. No one other than Sumner Redstone is making health-care decisions for him as it relates to his physical condition.”

Investors led by Mario Gabelli had expressed concern over the lack of information regarding Redstone’s ability to carry out his duties as executive chairman of both CBS Corp. and Viacom, two of the biggest U.S. media companies. A former girlfriend filed suit, challenging the 92-year-old billionaire’s mental capacity. Dauman was recently designated by Redstone as his health-care agent.

Viacom, owner of Paramount Pictures and the Comedy Central and Nickelodeon cable channels, rose 2 percent to $47.15 at the close Monday in New York, the first gain in seven trading days. The stock has dropped 37 percent this year. CBS, owner of the most-watched U.S. TV network, added less than 1 percent to $50.45. It is down 8.8 percent this year.

Dauman declined to comment on the litigation. He said he needed to address Redstone’s condition because of recent “misinformation” in the media.

“I would ask those who speak or write about him to look at themselves in the mirror” and think about “whether they are acting or speaking or writing with a sense of humanity and decency,” Dauman said. Redstone has accomplished a lot, created a lot of value and is being very thoughtful about the fate of his companies after his death -- “an event that he famously said and continues to say will never happen.”

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, speaking at the same conference, said the discussion of Redstone’s health “has not been a distraction.” He said CBS was “very secure.”

Family Company

Redstone controls CBS and Viacom through a family holding company that owns roughly 80 percent of the voting shares in each.

Gabelli, on Twitter Monday, said Viacom had walked analysts and portfolio managers through the structure of National Amusements Inc., Redstone’s holding company, along with a Redstone family trust.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.