Coverage: Sumner Redstone, daughter fight to keep control
Medial mogul Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari continued to make moves this weekend to maintain control of Viacom and CBS, continuing the drama surrounding the 92-year-old executive and the empire he built.
Emily Steel of the New York Times had the news:
The developments are likely to be cited by Viacom executives as evidence of Ms. Redstone’s behind-the-scenes role in the contentious shake-up over the weekend of the long-established succession plans for her father’s companies.
On Friday, two longtime confidants of Mr. Redstone, 92, were removed from their positions on the trust that will control Mr. Redstone’s companies after he dies or is declared incompetent. They were also separated from the board of National Amusements, the private theater chain company through which Mr. Redstone controls about 80 percent of the voting stock in Viacom and CBS, two of the world’s largest entertainment companies.
Thaddeus Jankowski, the senior vice president and general counsel of National Amusements, is expected to be named to the trust, according to the people, who requested anonymity because the deliberations are private. Ms. Redstone is a director and president of National Amusements, where she holds a position of authority over Mr. Jankowski.
The other person expected to be appointed to the seven-member trust is an undisclosed friend of Ms. Redstone, two of the people briefed on the matter said.
Kim Masters of The Hollywood Reporter reported that Redstone is refuting allegations from Viacom executives that he is incapacitated:
In remarks released through spokesman Mike Lawrence, Redstone rejected what he called Dauman’s “opportunistic claims” that he is incapacitated. The statement said, “Sumner Redstone remains today as Phillippe Dauman described him less than six months ago: ‘engaged, attentive, and as opinionated as ever.’ “
The statement also asserts that the frail 92-year-old mogul opposes the sale of a stake in Paramount Pictures, a deal that Dauman had said he intended to execute in the next few weeks.
After Dauman was dismissed on May 20 from the board of Redstone’s National Amusements Inc. and the trust that will control the fates of CBS and Viacom when Sumner is out of the picture, Dauman alleged that Shari Redstone was engaged in “a shameful effort” to take control of her father’s $40 billion businesses. Also dismissed from the NAI board and trust was Redstone’s longtime counsel, George Abrams, 83, though he remains on the Viacom board.
Matthew Garahan of the Financial Times reports that the fight for control of CBS and Viacom is getting messy:
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The removal of Philippe Dauman, whom Mr Redstone has often referred to as his most trusted ally, and George Abrams, a friend for 50 years, puts Mr Redstone’s daughter Shari in pole position to manage his empire when he has gone.
Ms Redstone now has an effective majority on the Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Trust but she can expect a drawn out fight — and it has already started.
Mr Dauman, Viacom’s chairman and chief executive, and Mr Abrams, a Viacom board member, released statements over the weekend suggesting that Mr Redstone had been manipulated by his daughter, with whom he has frequently clashed.
The board removals were “invalid and illegal”, Mr Dauman’s spokesman said, and “a shameful effort by Shari Redstone” to seize control by “unlawfully using” her “ailing” father’s name and signature.