Image: Summer Redstone
Andrew Gombert  /  EPA
Reports say a serious rift had developed between Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari, largely over corporate governance issues including Shari’s effort to more closely tie executive compensation with financial performance.
updated 7/19/2007 3:38:38 PM ET 2007-07-19T19:38:38

Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp., has reportedly had a falling out with his daughter and heir apparent, Shari Redstone, that could eventually result in her departure from his media empire.

If the younger Redstone does leave, it could throw open the question of who would succeed the 84-year-old media mogul as the controlling shareholder of Viacom and CBS Corp., which used to be combined with Viacom. Shari serves as a director of both companies, and is vice chairman of both boards.

Fortune magazine and The Wall Street Journal reported on their Web sites Thursday that a serious rift had developed between Redstone and his daughter, largely over corporate governance issues including Shari’s effort to more closely tie executive compensation with financial performance.

Nancy Sterling, a spokeswoman for Shari Redstone, said Shari is a “committed member” of the boards of both Viacom and CBS and has “no intention of resigning from those boards, nor has anyone asked her to resign.”

Sterling declined to comment on any communications that have occurred between Sumner Redstone and his daughter.

A spokesman for Viacom didn’t return a call for comment.

Shari Redstone, who is 53, has been widely expected to succeed her father as the controlling shareholder of both Viacom and CBS.

Earlier this year, Sumner Redstone settled a separate dispute with his son Brent, a lawyer living in Colorado. Brent had sued his father claiming he had been cut out of the decision-making process at National Amusements Inc., a privately held company that owns a chain of movie theaters as well as voting stock in CBS and Viacom.

As part of that settlement, the ownership of National Amusements was restructured so that Sumner Redstone owns 80 percent of the company, and Shari the other 20 percent. Previously Brent Redstone had owned one-sixth of that company, Shari one-sixth, and the remaining two-thirds by their father.

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