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Sumner Redstone won't have much influence over CBS and Viacom merger: WSJ

The 94-year-old media titan has just a single vote on the board of National Amusements Inc, his family's holding company

A picture of Sumner Redstone
CBS's initial all-stock offer for Viacom is reportedly lower than Viacom’s share price

Sumner Redstone will not have much say over whether to give the go-ahead to the merger between CBS (NYSE:CBS) and Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA), the two media companies his family controls via their voting stakes.

Indeed, the 94-year-old media titan, who has health problems and finds it difficult to speak, only has a single vote on the board of National Amusements Inc, his family’s holding company which owns a majority of the voting stakes in CBS and Viacom, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

National Amusements changed its bylaws in 2016 to give Redstone just one vote among its seven directors whenever decisions are connected to the Viacom and CBS stakes, according to the Journal, even though he owns 80% of National Amusements’ voting shares.

News about a deal between CBS and Viacom came this afternoon as CBS made an initial all-stock offer for Viacom that is reportedly lower than Viacom’s market value of US$12.5bln. Analysts had expected CBS’s offer to come at a premium to Viacom’s share price.

Leslie Moonves, who is currently chief executive of CBS, is expected to take the helm of the combined company for at least two years, according to published reports.

Shares in CBS (NYSE:CBS) inched up 4.84% to US$52.86 while Viacom (Nasdaq:VIA) lost 6.19% to finish at US$36.40.

-- Story updated to reflect announcement of CBS's initial all-stock offer for Viacom

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