Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Viacom CEO Calls Legal Disputes 'Distraction'

Philippe Dauman
Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman sent an email late Tuesday to all employees seeking to reassure them about the state of the company. The email, obtained exclusively by Variety, addresses the bitter succession feud that broke out over the weekend, when Sumner Redstone removed Dauman and his ally from the board of National Amusements Inc., which owns 80% of Viacom’s voting shares.

“We understand that this is a distraction and it can create speculation and concern,” Dauman wrote to employees. “We want you to know that we are keeping our focus squarely on what matters most to all of us — moving our company rapidly and successfully into the future.”

Dauman filed a complaint on Monday seeking to be reinstated to the board of National Amusements Inc. and the trust that will inherit Redstone’s controlling interest in CBS and Viacom upon his death or incapacity. Dauman alleges that Redstone’s daughter, Shari, took advantage of her father’s ailing health to seize control of his affairs.

Shari Redstone has been at odds with Dauman for years. She cast the lone dissenting vote when Dauman was named chairman of Viacom in February.

In statements over the weekend, Dauman alleged that he had been barred from seeing Redstone, and that Shari Redstone had his house “on lockdown.” Sumner Redstone, 92, issued his own statement questioning Dauman’s plan to seek a new investor for Paramount.

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