Viacom Shuffle: Redstone's Search for Youth

By Roberts, Johnnie I. | Newsweek, September 18, 2006 | Go to article overview

Viacom Shuffle: Redstone's Search for Youth


Roberts, Johnnie I., Newsweek


Byline: Johnnie l. Roberts

In ousting Tom Freston, Viacom mogul Sumner Redstone may have been driven by more than just lost faith in the longtime exec who successfully expanded cable's MTV into a global juggernaut. At 83, the multibillionaire Redstone is a self-avowed "stud" whose wife No. 2 is four decades younger. He brags that his exercise regimen and health-nut diet will buy him at least a couple more decades here on Earth. Yet it was the hereafter that Redstone had in mind when he installed Philippe Dauman, 52, to succeed Freston, 60, as CEO. According to associates who wouldn't dare talk on the record about what amounts to their boss's estate planning, Redstone sees Dauman as his future surrogate. The mogul admits as much to NEWSWEEK. "Obviously, I want to put in place the most competent and the most committed person in the world, and that's Philippe," Redstone says. "I hope Philippe is there [as Viacom CEO] when I say goodbye."

Dauman and Redstone's history highlights their special bond. As a junior corporate lawyer in the late 1980s, Dauman took Redstone seriously when he was weighing a hostile takeover of Viacom. "He believed in me, and I believed in him," Redstone recalls. Dauman served as one of Redstone's two chief deputies at Viacom until 2000, when he left after helping the mogul acquire CBS. "My stock price tripled" during the period, Redstone says. Dauman also is a director of National Amusements, the theater chain owned by Redstone that also holds his controlling stake in Viacom. …

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