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Will Infinity CEO Fill Viacom CFO Slot?

A close associate of Mel Karmazin seems to have the inside track to become Viacom's CFO.
Ed ZwirnMarch 7, 2001

Viacom is apparently embarking on an exhaustive search to replace Fredric Reynolds, who resigned earlier this week as the company’s CFO.

In fact, a representative from Viacom even contacted CFO.com, searching for a list of CFOs who serve at the 200 largest companies.

But, this exercise could be moot.

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For, Farid Suleman, the 49-year-old president and chief executive officer of Infinity Broadcasting, appears to be Reynolds’ likely replacement. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Farid [Suleman] became Viacom CFO,” says Neil Begley, a senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service.

Suleman is a longtime associate of Viacom president Mel Karmazin. He served as executive vice president and CFO of Infinity from September 1998 to February 2001, before replacing Karmazin as CEO the day after Viacom closed on its acquisition of the radio broadcasting giant.

He joined CBS in 1996 as senior vice president and CFO of CBS Radio.

Reynolds, 50, a former Westinghouse Electric executive, presided over his company’s sale to CBS and, more recently, CBS’s sale to Viacom. His announcement this week of plans to leave his post as Viacom CFO surprised analysts.

“He wants to spend more time with his family in California,” Viacom spokesman Carl Fulta told CFO.com, adding that the 50-year-old Reynolds will stay at his CFO post for “however many months it takes to find somebody.”

Reynolds, “was one of the last of the old [Westinghouse Electric] team,” notes Begley, crediting Reynolds with “preserving the institutional memory of the way things worked through all of these changes.”

Reynolds, who joined Westinghouse Electric in 1995 after a stint at Pepsi, will leave his New York City-based position but will continue to work in California for the company in a capacity yet to be determined.

Suleman made more than $2 million in 1999 working for Infinity, including $700,000 salary, a $1.25 million bonus, and $102,000 in stock options, according to a proxy statement filed with the SEC last year.