Saturday, July 30, 2016

Judge: Trial To Settle Viacom Board Changes

Sumner Redstone
Billionaire Sumner Redstone can’t avoid a lawsuit challenging his removal of directors from the board of Viacom Inc. At least not yet, a judge ruled.

According to Bloomberg, the decision by Delaware Chancery Court Judge Andre Bouchard allows the case by ousted Viacom director Fred Salerno to go forward, with a trial scheduled for October.

“What’s at stake here is nothing less than the governance of a multibillion-dollar company,” Bouchard said. “My focus is whether a 90-year-old man in a rapidly declining state of health had the mental capacity” to take the actions attributed to him.

Fred Salerno
It’s one of two lawsuits brought by former members of Redstone’s inner circle since May as the billionaire seeks to reassert control over his $40 billion empire by rearranging Viacom’s management and removing two trustees from a family trust that will control the company.

Philippe Dauman
In a separate case, a judge in Massachusetts on Thursday set an October trial date to determine whether Viacom Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman was wrongfully ousted from the trust. Dauman claims Redstone was incapacitated when he made the decision.

Redstone is facing accusations that his mental health has declined to a point where he’s being influenced by his daughter, Shari Redstone, upsetting years of careful estate and succession planning. The fight over the billionaire’s holdings has overshadowed Viacom for months, delaying deals and leaving many questioning what’s next for the company, which owns Paramount Pictures, MTV and CBS Corp.

Redstone controls about 80 percent of the voting stock at Viacom and has a similar stake in CBS through his holding company National Amusements Inc.

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