Leslie Moonves Poised for CBS Board Chair Upon Death of Sumner Redstone

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Leslie Moonves

The mogul's daughter, Shari Redstone, is said to have struck a deal with the CBS chief.

CBS chief Leslie Moonves is likely to become chairman of the board upon the death of Sumner Redstone, people familiar with the situation confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter

The arrangement was made through a deal struck with the Viacom mogul's daughter, Shari Redstone, the sources said. 

Sumner Redstone, 92, controls both CBS and Viacom through his National Amusements holding company, and his interest there will pass to his trust run by seven trustees, including his daughter.

While a provision in the trust allows for Shari Redstone to become chairman of both CBS and Viacom upon her father's death, she has already assured Moonves that he would assume the chairmanship at CBS, according to insiders who doubt that a similar deal exists for Viacom CEO Phlippe Dauman. 

Both Dauman and Moonves have provisions in their employment agreements that give them the opportunity to leave — with payments of perhaps tens of millions of dollars — if anyone other than Sumner Redstone were to become their boss. 

With the deal between Shari Redstone and Moonves, CBS will seemingly avoid the sort of turmoil that would come with a new CEO because he will be simply made board chair along with maintaining his role as chief executive.

While Sumner Redstone is executive chairman at CBS and Viacom, it's uncertain whether Moonves would take that title or just chairman of the board without the "executive" qualifier.

Observers say that it is more critical to maintain the stability of management at CBS in the event of Redstone's death than it is at Viacom, given that the former has performed well for investors while the latter has not. In the past three years, Viacom shares are down 14 percent, while CBS shares are up 29 percent.

Details of a bargain between Moonves and Shari Redstone are coming to light shortly after The Wall Street Journal revealed that the latter rejected a $1 billion offer from her father last year to purchase her 20 percent stake in National Amusements.

CBS declined to comment. Viacom did not respond to a request for comment.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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