“Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements removed five members of the Viacom Inc. board Thursday — including Chairman Philippe Dauman — as the billionaire continues to reassert control of the media giant and take steps to replace Dauman as chief executive officer,” reports Bloomberg.
The story continues, “George Abrams, Blythe McGarvie, Frederic Salerno and William Schwartz were also ousted from the board, according to a statement Thursday from National Amusements Inc., Redstone’s theater chain and the controlling shareholder in Viacom. The changes are subject to approval by a court in Delaware, where Viacom is incorporated.”
Adds Reuters, “Dauman remains [Viacom] CEO for now and he and the other four will stay on the board until a Delaware court affirms the changes, but the move could be a prelude to the 93-year-old media mogul forcing Dauman out of the company entirely.
“Viacom’s independent lead director Fred Salerno, one of the board members Redstone removed, shot back with his own lawsuit on Thursday in the same Delaware court to block the move, calling it “invalid” and the result of Redstone’s daughter Shari Redstone manipulating her father.”
Notes The New York Times, “The shake-up comes as lawyers battle over whether Redstone, 93, is mentally competent to run the multibillion-dollar New York-based media companies Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp.”
The Times also says, “Dauman, the third highest-paid CEO in America last year, has been criticized by analysts and investors alike for failing to keep up with changes wrought by the internet on Viacom’s TV networks like Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon.
“Viacom shares jumped nearly 7 percent Thursday, but are still down 49 percent from their all-time highest close of $88.90 in March 2014.”
The Reuters story says the new Viacom directors are “Kenneth Lerer, a venture capitalist and co-founder of the Huffington Post and chairman of BuzzFeed; Nicole Seligman, a former Sony Corp executive; Judith McHale, the former head of Discovery Communications, [and who was general counsel for Viacom’s MTV Networks in the 1980s]; Thomas May, the chairman of Eversource Energy utility company; and Ron Nelson, chairman and CEO of Avis Budget Group, who used to work at DreamWorks and Paramount.”
To read more about this story we suggest you click on the links above, which take you to the original accounts at Bloomberg, Reuters, and The New York Times.