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Investor wants clarity on Sumner Redstone’s health, Viacom says he is ‘mentally capable’

MUMBAI: The health and mental competence of Viacom Inc.’s 92-year old executive chairman Sumner Redstone is bothering shareholders of the global media and entertainment company.

When the second-biggest shareholder Mario Gabelli asked the company for more clarity on Redstone’s health and then tweeted expressing his concerns, the shares of Viacom closed more than 4 per cent down. Gabelli’s investment funds own about 10 per cent of Viacom’s voting shares.

Viacom, however, responded by saying that Redstone is mentally competent and dismissed concerns about his health. In a statement, Viacom’s governance and nominating committee chairman William Schwartz said: “As has been widely and publicly disclosed, Mr. Redstone’s physicians have publicly attested that he is mentally capable, and this information is consistent with other medical and other information available to me.”

Redstone is also executive chairman of CBS. He controls Viacom and CBS through a roughly 80 per cent voting stake.

Earlier, Redstone’s ex-girlfriend Manuela Herzer filed papers in court claiming that he lacked mental competence when he decided to throw her out of his Beverly Park mansion in October. The court filing further said that he was unable to follow conversations.

However, Redstone’s lawyers have pointed out that Herzer’s suit is financially motivated. They have said that Redstone’s primary physician visits twice a week and that he has passed mental competency tests, the Los Angeles Times reported.