Sumner Redstone is chairman of a huge media business. He’s also 92 years-old. The long running saga over the control of his business might not present family businesses at their best, but be prepared to see many more of these drawn-out succession struggles in the future.
That’s because, regardless of all the family business advisors and best-practice case studies, letting go for a highly successful businessman/women will sometimes never be smooth. Combine that with the fact that people, and maybe even more so, bosses are living much longer these days and you get a heady mix of succession struggles ahead.
Watch all those octogenarians bosses now running hugely successful family businesses and see whether they’re going to hand over power so easily. Here’s a few names to ponder: Li Ka-shing, 87, and chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings; Warren Buffett, 85, and chairman AND chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway; Leonardo Del Vecchio, 80, and chairman of Luxottica Group; and, of course, probably the most famous business octogenarian of his generation, Rupert Murdoch, 85, and chairman AND chief executive of News Corporation.
Are these octogenarians going to hand over power like it should be done according to best practices? No way, if so, they would have done so by now. Even when they do try to take themselves away from the business, often they come right back into it again, like Del Vecchio did a few years back.
Of course, their eventual succession might not get as tawdry as that around the saga of Sumner Redstone, but not all of them are going to go quietly. And let’s face it, the world would be more boring place if they did…
Let's salute oldie family business leaders.