Activist Viacom Investor: Whatever You Do, Don’t Name Philippe Dauman Chairman

“We strongly urge management and the board to appoint an independent director as Executive Chairman and that it not be Philippe Dauman,” SpringOwl Asset Management says

Hedge fund SpringOwl Asset Management, a small investor in Viacom, has asked the company not to name current CEO Philippe Dauman chairman.

The fund released a statement condemning Dauman Wednesday after Sumner Redstone, Viacom’s executive chairman, stepped down from his parallel roll as head of the board of CBS Corp. He was replaced by CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves.

Following that announcement, Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone, indicated that she would not support Dauman to succed her father as chairman of Viacom.

“We thank Sumner for his service and a tremendous entrepreneurial career in building a great set of assets,” SpringOwl said in a statement Wednesday. “SpringOwl has recently made a case for change at Viacom with the goal of increasing value for all shareholders and the company has responded. The positive jump in share price in after-hours trading demonstrates shareholder approval for these changes.

“We strongly urge management and the board to appoint an independent director as Executive Chairman and that it not be Philippe Dauman. We hope management and the board will continue to act responsibly in addressing Viacom’s depressed stock price relative to its much higher asset value,” it concluded.

Viacom announced Wednesday that it has scheduled a board meeting for Thursday.

In January, SpringOwl’s Eric Jackson called for the resignations of Redstone, Dauman and the entirety of Viacom’s board — calling Redstone an “absent chair for too long.”

The health of Redtone, 92, has been the subject of much debate. A lawsuit by Redstone’s ex-girlfriend, filed in October, claims that the mogul is unable to follow conversations and sign his own name. Dauman, who was named that same month as Redstone’s healthcare agent, maintains that Redstone remains in charge of his own decisions.

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