ViacomCBS Inc. (VIAC) said Wednesday its Chairman Emeritus Sumner Redstone has died at the age of 97. Redstone was executive chairman of the Viacom board for almost 30 years and was CEO from 1996 until 2005, during which time the company merged with CBS Corp. in 2000. Redstone served as executive chairman of both companies' boards and in February was named chairman emeritus for both companies. "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 Chief Executive Bob Bakish said in a statement. "He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind a profound legacy in both business and philanthropy." Redstone, who was known for his personal life and a dispute with his live-in companion, famously declared that he would never die.