“A truce has been reached in the vicious corporate battle that pitted [Sumner] Redstone, who controls Viacom and CBS, and his daughter, Shari Redstone, against his longtime confidants and directors at Viacom, according to two people briefed on the agreement,” reports Emily Steel in The New York Times.
The Times adds, “Terms of the settlement — which firmly put the future of the corporate empire under the control of Mr. Redstone and his daughter — include the dismissal of Philippe P. Dauman as chief executive of Viacom, the beleaguered media company that owns the MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon cable television networks and the Paramount Pictures film and television studio. Mr. Dauman will depart with a total severance package valued at about $72 million.”
Variety adds that the agreement, “makes chief operating officer Thomas Dooley interim chief executive of the conglomerate that controls MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures, while also launching a search for a permanent replacement for Dauman, according to several sources.”
The Variety story continues, “One theory is that the Viacom board – including five new members who will take their seats once the settlement takes full effect, according to sources – will appoint CBS Corp. CEO and chairman Les Moonves to the same roles at Viacom.
“CBS and Viacom had been joined as a single corporation until 2006, when Redstone cleaved the two into separate operations, saying that they needed to be more nimble and specialized in a new media landscape tilted toward digital programming. While there has been speculation that CBS and Viacom could be rejoined, most observers believe that would present too many governance and value complications.
“Moonves’s elevation would seem to solve, at least temporarily, concerns about Viacom’s flagging performance. The one-time actor is known to be a favorite of Shari Redstone, 62, the former prosecutor and tech investor who sits on the boards of both of the family companies and is viewed as having an outsized role in their future. Shari has long touted Moonves’s management skills and business savvy, in contrast to those of Dauman, who she viewed as overly cautious. The Redstone heiress was seen huddling with Moonves at this spring’s Allen & Company moguls retreat in Sun Valley Idaho.”