Viacom chief Redstone splits with second wife
LOS ANGELES |
LOS ANGELES Oct 21 (Reuters) - Media mogul Sumner Redstone, the irascible billionaire whose fortunes have been battered by the financial crisis, has filed for divorce from his second wife after five years of marriage, a spokesman said on Tuesday.
The 85-year-old executive chairman of both Viacom Inc VIAb.N and CBS Corp (CBSa.N) cited "irreconcilable differences" with Paula Fortunato Redstone, a former school teacher who is almost 40 years his junior.
The couple, who live in a gated community overlooking Beverly Hills, have no children together. They had entered into a "marital settlement agreement" covering their assets, said the papers filed on Friday in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
A source close to the couple said the agreement covered a $5 million payment by Redstone to Fortunato but that he will likely give her more than that. The settlement will have no impact on Redstone's business interests, the source added.
Forbes magazine last month estimated Redstone was worth $5.1 billion, although that sum has likely been reduced by the global financial turmoil.
The source said the split was amicable and that there was no one else involved.
"While this is a difficult decision for both of us, we remain close and supportive friends and are committed to each other's continued happiness and success," the couple said in a statement.
News of the divorce filing was first broken by Hollywood gossip website TMZ.com.
Redstone married Fortunato in 2003 after splitting with his wife of more than 50 years, Phyllis, with whom he had two children.
He and Fortunato had met two years earlier on a blind date arranged by mutual friends at now-defunct investment bank Bear Stearns. Tony Bennett sang at their wedding.
A 2006 profile of the couple indicated some basic differences. He liked to go to bed at 9 p.m. and she at 11 p.m. But she was also credited with softening his rough edges.
The cantankerous former attorney turned a small family-run theater chain into the controlling shareholder of such prime media assets as movie studio Paramount Pictures, broadcaster CBS, cable channel MTV and publisher Simon & Schuster.
Along the way, he engaged in public feuds with everyone from actor Tom Cruise and senior executives to his own children and has battled industry perceptions that he is eccentric and out of touch.
Redstone was this month forced to sell $233 million worth of CBS and Viacom shares to avoid breaching bank covenants related to a $1.6 billion loan to National Amusements, the theater chain through which he holds his Viacom and CBS stakes.
He is in talks with his bankers to renegotiate the debt, prompting industry speculation that he may have to sell more shares. Although he owns a minority of shares outstanding, his control of both companies currently remains unaffected thanks to his voting shares. (Editing by John O'Callaghan)
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