There might be a happy ending for the Redstones. Or at least an ending to the legal battle over what happens to the $40 billion media empire built by 93-year-old Sumner Redstone after he dies.
Keryn Redstone, who had been bucking an agreement announced Saturday that ousted former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman not just from the company, but from National Amusements, the Redstone family holding company, and as a trustee of the trust that will control the assets after Sumner Redstone passes or is judged incompetent to make business decisions.
That appeared to leave in charge Shari Redstone, Sumner Redstone’s daughter and Keryn Redstone’s aunt, an arrangement Keryn felt didn’t fit with her grandfather’s wishes and leave her secure about getting her share of the family fortune.
After a hearing in Massachusetts Friday, the judge and the parties appeared to be satisfied. (Separately, a Delaware court OKed changes in Viacom’s board room and bylaws that also appeared to put Shari Redstone in the driver’s seat.)
Keryn Redstone was granted a visit with her grandfather, who she hadn’t seen for month because, she alleged, he was under the undue influence of her aunt. She also received assurances that the Redstone trust would be amended to secure her part of its eventual payout, even with her aunt inn control of her grandfather’s money. (They agreed to put a dispute over $6 million into arbitration.)
Pierce O’Donnell, an attorney for Keryn Redstone, said: "Keryn took on the most powerful media conglomerate and high-powered law firms in America in order to protect her beloved grandfather and her inheritance. With today's victories in court, she has prevailed. She will soon have a chance to visit with her beloved grandfather and begin a reconciliation process. And her $1 billion share of the trust will be forever assured by the trust amendments. Keryn could not be happier."
In her own statement, Keryn Redstone thanked the judge for the opportunity to see her grandfather."
I am overjoyed that we will soon be reunited. Since February, Shari has isolated him and controlled every aspect of his life. Thankfully, I am not alone in my concern. I dearly love my Grandfather. His safety and his health have been my primary concern. For over a year, it has grieved me to watch his condition deteriorate. Finally, after these painful months of separation, this compassionate Judge has seen the love between us and arranged for us to visit,” she said.
“I filed this lawsuit to protect my Grandfather, to assure that his wishes were carried out, and to prevent Shari’s handpicked new Trustees from discriminating against me in administering the Trust and making distributions—something that my Grandfather would never have tolerated when he was healthy. I am heartened that we have been able to force that the Trust be amended to make it ironclad and bullet proof that this will not happen and Judge Phelan will assure that closing any loopholes and protecting me will be a permanent order of the Court,” she said.
“But most of all, I look forward to being able to tell my Grandfather how much I have missed him and how much I love him. I cannot wait to see him,” Keryn Redstone said.
Shari Redstone’s attorney, Elizabeth Burnett, said she was pleased for the Redstone family.
"The plaintiffs’ claims filed against Sumner and Shari have been dismissed, the settlement agreement is firmly in place, and Sumner’s decisions have been honored in all respects. This result benefits Viacom, National Amusements and all of the beneficiaries of Sumner’s trust.," she said.
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.