As CEO of Viacom, Phillippe Dauman was widely detested and probably incompetent, but he was the favorite son of controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone, who, at 93 years old, has lately had his hands full with arranging threesomes before he croaks. Alas, today Dauman was potentially removed from Viacom’s board—but by whom?
Scoop: Sumner Redstone ousts 5 Viacom directors including Philippe Dauman. Asks Delaware court to approve the changes w/@jtoonkel— Dan Levine (@FedcourtJunkie) June 16, 2016
It could have been Redstone himself, of course, but signs point to Redstone’s daughter, Shari. Vanity Fair’s invaluable Redstone family whisperer Michael D. Cohan posted a story late last night reporting on the belief among those close to Redstone that Shari is “propping him up long enough to engineer her own deliberate palace coup.”
Cohan writes that Shari “openly detests Dauman, her father’s protégé,” and by all accounts it would be a sudden about face for Redstone to dethrone the man he helped elevate despite disastrous decisions like carrying on a fruitless seven year-long, billion-dollar suit against YouTube, which spent that time eating Viacom’s lunch.
“This is a brazen and demonstrably invalid attempt by Ms. Redstone to gain control of Viacom and its management in disregard of Sumner Redstone’s wishes and to undermine the current board’s ability to represent the best interests of all of the stockholders of Viacom,” Viacom’s lead board member Frederic Salerno said in a statement.
He noted that Sumner Redstone for years said he wanted professional managers to oversee his $40 billion media empire, which includes Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp., rather than his daughter.
“Sadly, it is now clear that Mr. Redstone is being manipulated and used by his daughter in an attempt to accomplish her long-held goal of gaining complete control of Viacom,” Salerno said.
In an attempt to prevent Shari from following through on her removal of Dauman and the other board members, Salerno has filed suit in a Delaware court to prevent the moves from being approved. If Shari is successful, Dauman would almost certainly be fired.
Also, there’s this morning’s curious tweet from Carl Folta, Viacom’s vice president of corporate communications, insinuating something about elder abuse:
Correction: This post originally stated that Dauman had been ousted as CEO. Instead, Shari Redstone has removed him from the board pending approval from a Delaware court. This post has been updated to reflect this information.