Philippe Dauman may be coming around to the reality of life without Viacom and Sumner Redstone, a knowledgeable individual told TheWrap.
With his options dwindling and Shari Redstone’s control over the future of Viacom setting in, the CEO and Chairman spent his holiday weekend in East Hampton with family mulling what’s next, the insider said. Dauman was at a well-known restaurant, Nick and Toni’s, described by one witness as”lording” over the table and speaking audibly about life after Viacom.
A Viacom spokesman, however, said Dauman remains committed to his legal battle for control.
“This is completely untrue,” the spokesman said. “While Mr Dauman spent Memorial Day weekend at his home with family, he remains completely focused on continuing the strategic initiatives underway at Viacom, particularly the potential sale of a minority interest in Paramount.”
But it’s increasingly clear that Dauman — one of Redstone’s foremost proteges — now faces his endgame at Viacom. The 62-year-old, who owns the Hamptons estate with wife Deborah, was said to be joined by son Philippe Dauman Jr. who last week departed a Director of Commerce Partners position at Twitter.
Prior to the trip, Dauman was reportedly hunkered down in the Manhattan offices of Viacom where he successfully convinced a judge to move up a scheduled competency hearing for his 93-year-old mentor, Redstone.
But Sumner’s mental capacity — questions over which were almost immediately dismissed in Los Angeles court last month — will do little to help Dauman recover from his game-changing removal from the board of trustees of the Redstone estate. The loss of that seat, along with his board position at Redstone-owned theater chain National Amusements, has solidified the majority power of Sumner’s daughter, Shari.
Dauman’s exit from Viacom seems a question of when, not if, and over a very short timetable at that. Shari holds her own seat on the trust, and is perceived to control the seat of her son Tyler and one belonging to her mother’s divorce attorney. The trust controls majority shares in both Viacom and CBS Corp.
Dauman and Viacom’s board of independent directors are not going quietly. The group has spoken loud and long in accusing Shari of manipulating the ailing mogul, who for decades said she should never be in control of the company.
Shari fired back as recently as Tuesday, maintaining she has no desire to run either major media company — but wants to ensure their value to shareholders.
“The Board should spend less time focusing on 1) Shari and 2) how to maintain their own directorships, and more time on a long term strategy to increase the value for shareholders and to develop a specific long-term plan to turn around the current state of Viacom,” a rep for Shari said in a statement.
Redstone’s mental competency hearing will take place on June 7 in Massachusetts.