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Sumner Redstone to attend Viacom meeting after all

March 2, 2012 |  5:38 pm

Sumner Redstone at the Academy Awards

Viacom Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone has decided he's not too busy to attend his media company's annual shareholders meeting after all.

On Friday, just 24 hours after Viacom said Redstone had an "unavoidable conflict" that would prevent his traveling to New York to preside over next week's meeting, the octogenarian apparently had a change of heart.

"Mr. Redstone very much wanted to attend the Viacom annual meeting. He was able to change his commitment and will participate in person at the meeting," Viacom spokesman Carl Folta said late Friday in a statement. 

Folta declined to identify Redstone's now-averted "unavoidable conflict."

Thursday's news of Redstone's planned absence from the shareholders meeting raised questions in the investment community about the aging media mogul's health. The billionaire, who lives in Los Angeles and turns 89 in May, has been limiting his travel in recent years.

Viacom annual meetings typically are sparsely attended affairs, primarily because Redstone owns nearly 80% of the voting stock. But Redstone has not been one to miss the gatherings.

Viacom's widely traded B shares closed Friday at $48.48 a share, down 35 cents. Viacom A shares, which are the preferred voting shares, continue to rise in value above the price of the non-voting shares, in part because some investors anticipate an eventual change in control. Viacom A shares closed Friday at $54.22, down 29 cents.

Redstone, who collected $21 million last year in executive compensation from Viacom, also is the controlling shareholder of CBS.  Last year he attended both the Viacom and CBS annual shareholder meetings.

He appeared with his grandson at the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood on Sunday. Redstone also plans to partake in the festivities when he receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this month.


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Photo: Viacom Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone at the Academy Awards on Sunday in Hollywood. Credit: Paul Buck / European Pressphoto Agency