Moonves in line to succeed Redstone as CBS Corp. chairman: report

CBS Corp. chief executive Les Moonves is set to succeed 92-year-old Sumner Redstone as chairman of the powerful but struggling programming conglomerate CBS, per an agreement with Redstone's daughter, Shari Redstone.

The Wall Street Journal reports that there's a condition in the family trust that mandates the succession once Redstone passes on or gets ruled incompetent to handle his affairs. Redstone serves as chairman of both Viacom and CBS Corp., two of the most powerful programming brands in the pay-TV ecosystem. 

Notably, WSJ, citing unnamed sources, said the family agreement does not call for Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman to assume the chairmanship of struggling Viacom.

The paper said Shari Redstone, who currently holds the title of vice chair for both CBS and Viacom, is actually listed as in line to succeed her father as chairwoman of both entities. However, she reportedly has a side agreement with Moonves to give him control over CBS Corp.

Redstone's health has come under scrutiny of late, with a former girlfriend challenging the mogul's competency in court. It also comes with Viacom struggling to maintain linear ratings, ad support and subscriber counts for its cable channels. The company's stock price has nearly halved this year, based on anxiety about the conglomerate's multi-channel networks, which have been hit particularly hard by SVOD usage. 

Redstone controls a nearly 80 percent voting stake in both CBS and Viacom. He has said that upon his death or incapacitation, his nearly 80 percent voting stakes in CBS and Viacom will pass on to an irrevocable trust that will be overseen by seven trustees, including Shari Redstone and her son, as well as Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and four lawyers with ties to Redstone and his ex-wife, Shari Redstone's mother.

As WSJ noted, Redstone has had an often tumultuous relationship with his daughter, who has clashed with several of his live-in companions. However, she rejected a $1 billion offer to cash out of the family business last year and is reportedly mending ties with her father. 

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal story
- read this Bloomberg story

Related articles:
Ergen: Viacom has to be 'realistic' about its 'deteriorated' ratings
Moonves: CBS to make $2B per year in retrans fees and reverse compensation by 2020
Viacom takes $785M write-down for layoffs, cratering cable TV ratings
It's autumn for Sumner Redstone... and Viacom, too?

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