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12 Aug, 2020 14:48

ViacomCBS media mogul Sumner Redstone dead at 97

ViacomCBS media mogul Sumner Redstone dead at 97

Media magnate Sumner Redstone has died at the age of 97, having built his family’s drive-in theater business into one of the largest media empires in the world through a series of shrewd acquisitions and battles with other moguls.

Redstone, who ran CBS and Viacom until February 2016, died on Tuesday at his Los Angeles home, according to the family’s private holding company National Amusements. His daughter, Shari Redstone, will continue to run the family media empire, taking over her father’s seat on the board of trustees that controls 70 percent of ViacomCBS.

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Born Sumner Rothstein in Boston, the magnate began his media career in his family’s drive-in theater business and was worth upwards of $5 billion at the time of his death, having built up a prodigious TV and film empire through hard-charging acquisitions. These included Viacom (bought in 1987), Paramount (purchased in 1994 following a high-stakes bidding war), and CBS (acquired in 1999).

He was forced to relinquish his leadership of ViacomCBS in 2016 after a court-ordered doctor’s examination, with shareholders concerned about his mental and physical health following a series of strokes that left him all but incapable of speaking. At CBS, his role was taken up by Les Moonves, who was ousted from the company last year over sexual misconduct allegations. At Viacom, his replacement was Philippe Dauman, whose departure the family managed to engineer less than a year after he took the helm.

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Redstone was notoriously averse to making plans for the future of his companies, telling the Hollywood Reporter in 2014 he would not “discuss succession” because “I’m not going to die.

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