Redstone's Absence Heats Up Rumor Mill

Viacom held their earnings conference call yesterday and Sumner Redstone was a no-show on the call. 

The 91-year-old media mogul, who is said to be in poor health, failed to be on the call.

The absence of the limelight-loving billionaire is bound has set off another round of speculation about the future of his media empire that spans entertainment powerhouses Viacom and CBS.

Redstone, the controlling shareholder of both companies, sounded feeble during Viacom’s earlier conference call in November. Since then, media bankers have been shopping strategies for winning control of either or both companies in the event Redstone steps aside.

With questions swirling around his health, a company spokesman told The Post late last year that Redstone was still “sharp as a tack.”

Redstone controls CBS and Viacom through National Amusements, but when he’s gone, a trust will assume control of his voting shares.

Still, it’s unclear who will run the trust as Redstone, who turns 92 in May, has battled publicly with both his children, his ex-wives and with various executives who appeared to challenge his power.

While senior executives are not required to be present on every earnings call, Redstone has been a domineering presence, making his absence all the more acute.

By the way, the earnings news for Viacom was not very good. The company reported revenue that fell short of expectations, weighed down by lower ratings and weaker ad revenue. Domestic ad revenue fell 6 percent, with cable networks MTV and Comedy Central hard hit.

H/T NY Post