Sumner Redstone Resigns as CBS Executive Chairman

(Reuters) -
This composite image shows Les Moonves, left, and Sumner Redstone. (Reuters/Danny Moloshok/File)
This composite image shows Les Moonves, left, and Sumner Redstone. (Reuters/Danny Moloshok/File)

Sumner Redstone has resigned as executive chairman of CBS Corp, the company said on Wednesday, amid heightened questions about the 92-year-old billionaire’s physical and mental health.

Shares of CBS were up 4.6 percent in after-hours market trading, while those of Viacom Inc, where Redstone is also chairman, rose 7.9 percent.

Viacom’s board is scheduled to meet on Thursday, a company spokesman said, and may follow suit in replacing Redstone as chairman, CNBC reported.

CBS said Redstone would be replaced by Leslie Moonves, its president and chief executive since 2006.

Redstone’s health has been the subject of intense debate, partly due to his notable absence from the companies’ recent earnings conference calls.

Redstone controls about 80 percent of the voting shares in Viacom and CBS through a holding company.

CBS said that, before electing Moonves, its board offered the position of non-executive chair to Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone, but that she had declined.

Shari Redstone confirmed she declined the offer and congratulated Moonves on his new role.

“It is my firm belief that whoever may succeed my father as Chair at each company should be someone who is not a Trustee of my father’s trust or otherwise intertwined in Redstone family matters, but rather a leader with an independent voice,” she said in an emailed statement. “I was honored to nominate Les as the CBS Chair and am delighted to congratulate him on his new position.”

Viacom said last month that it cut Redstone’s total pay by 85 percent last year in light of his “reduced responsibilities,” without giving further details.

Redstone’s resignation as executive chairman was effective Feb. 2, CBS said. He will remain as chairman emeritus.