Billionaire Sumner Redstone has died at the age of 97. Redstone transformed National Amusements, his family's drive-in theater chain, into a massive media empire, which included a controlling share of Viacom and CBS. His fortune was estimated to be around $3 billion as of May 2020.
"My father led an extraordinary life that not only shaped entertainment as we know it today, but created an incredible family legacy," Shari Redstone, Sumner's daughter and chair of ViacomCBS, said in a statement. "Through it all, we shared a great love for one another and he was a wonderful father, grandfather and great-grandfather. I am so proud to be his daughter and I will miss him always."
Redstone pulled off a hostile takeover of Viacom in 1987, amassing a large amount of debt in the process. In the end, his bet paid off, and Redstone had the start of his media empire.
"We sold about everything we had," he recalled in the 2012 CNBC interview. "I had acquired a lot of media stocks. In those days, it meant a great deal, because they weren't part of conglomerates. We made some money. We borrowed some money. As they say, we bet the ranch. Something like $5-to-700 million, which is now worth about $8 billion."
Redstone would go on to acquire a controlling stake in CBS and Paramount and became one of the most powerful men in the entertainment industry.
"Sumner Redstone was a brilliant visionary, operator and dealmaker, who single-handedly transformed a family-owned drive-in theater company into a global media portfolio," ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement Wednesday. "He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind a profound legacy in both business and philanthropy. ViacomCBS will remember Sumner for his unparalleled passion to win, his endless intellectual curiosity, and his complete dedication to the company. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Redstone family today."
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