The battle that is splitting Sumner M. Redstone’s $40 billion media empire is further dividing his family as well: His granddaughter Keryn Redstone is siding with Viacom’s directors, who are challenging his competence and asserting that he was manipulated by his daughter, Shari Redstone.
In a statement released Wednesday, Keryn Redstone said she was planning legal action to join with Viacom directors in a “common cause to liberate my grandfather from Shari’s clutches and protect my fellow trust beneficiaries and myself from her machinations.”
Keryn Redstone, 34, said that her grandfather, who is 93 and in poor health, had been incompetent since October and that she had been restricted from seeing him since Valentine’s Day, when he “sat there lifeless and flanked by nurses and caretakers.”
She took direct aim at her aunt, asserting that Shari Redstone and her family “have managed to totally isolate and effectively kidnap, brainwash and take advantage of my grandfather due to his debilitated state of mind and frail health.”
She said Shari Redstone and her three adult children had “succeeded in reversing decades of my grandfather’s careful estate planning and are poised to seize control of Viacom and CBS.”
“I do not intend to let Shari get away with this outrage,” Keryn Redstone said in the statement.
Representatives of Mr. Redstone and Shari Redstone did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Viacom spokesman declined to comment.
Feuding has long been a part of the Redstone family history. Keryn Redstone is the daughter of Brent Redstone, Sumner’s estranged son. Brent Redstone sued Mr. Redstone in 2006, asserting that his father had favored his sister and frozen him out of the family business. They settled the year after, when Brent Redstone’s share of the business was bought out. Since then, he has avoided the public spotlight.
This is the second time this year that Keryn Redstone has stood in opposition to her aunt. In April, she filed a petition to join Manuela Herzer, a former companion and onetime romantic partner of Mr. Redstone, in Ms. Herzer’s suit challenging the media mogul’s mental competency. While the judge overseeing the case rejected Keryn Redstone’s petition, she was scheduled to appear as a witness in the trial before it was dismissed.
Keryn Redstone’s announcement Wednesday that she had aligned with Viacom directors added yet another plotline to the ferocious battle for power engulfing Mr. Redstone’s business empire. Through the private theater chain company National Amusements, Mr. Redstone controls about 80 percent of the voting stock in Viacom and CBS, two of the world’s largest entertainment companies. That control will pass to an irrevocable trust after Mr. Redstone dies or is declared incompetent.
Mr. Redstone recently ousted Philippe P. Dauman, Viacom’s chairman and chief executive, and George Abrams, a Viacom director, from the trust that will control his companies; both were longtime confidants. Those dismissals are now at the center of legal battles in Massachusetts and California.
At stake for Keryn Redstone in the court fights is the future of her inheritance. She and Mr. Redstone’s other grandchildren are the beneficiaries of the trust; as such, they are named as nominal defendants in the Massachusetts suit that challenges the changes to the trust.
What specific legal action Keryn Redstone plans is unclear. She could side with Mr. Dauman and Mr. Abrams in their Massachusetts suit; contest Mr. Redstone’s petition in Los Angeles; or take legal action of her own.
Keryn Redstone has hired Pierce O’Donnell, the same lawyer who represents Ms. Herzer. Ms. Herzer is appealing the judge’s decision last month to dismiss her case and has filed a separate $100 million suit against Shari Redstone for portraying her as the center of a network of people who manipulated and abused Mr. Redstone.
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