Sumner Redstone was the first major media mogul to get slammed by the economic downturn, and the Viacom chief's troubles continue. His pending divorce and the comical failure of his video game business are mere distractions. His bigger problem is that his company has $1.6 billion in debt to deal with, and Redstone is squabbling with his daughter about how to do it. For some, it's already too late; we hear that layoffs are coming down at Viacom tomorrow. But for the Redstones, there seem to be only three real options:
- Sell a stake in National Amusements, the holding company through which Redstone controls Viacom and CBS.
- Sell a stake in the movie chain business that daughter Shari Redstone runs. Or,
- Sell off CBS or Viacom.
Sumner Redstone has vetoed option three. Option two looks attractive money-wise, but it would piss off Shari, and besides, the movie chains are the most consistent money-maker the company has right now. That leaves option one—which could keep Redstone in control while giving him some cash to maneuver with. But he doesn't want anyone else telling him how to run his company. So maybe he's just screwed? We'll see! [WSJ. The unkindest cut: the WSJ says Shari Redstone "bares a striking resemblance to her father." That's just mean.]