Questions abound about whether Sumner Redstone is still making his own decisions, and on his 93rd birthday Friday, the media mogul’s spokesman issued a statement to assure the world that he is.
“Sumner Redstone will make every decision with the same deliberation and consideration with which he removed Phillippe Dauman and George Abrams as trustees, based on the best interests of shareholders,” spokesman Mike Lawrence said in a statement to reporters.
The statement came in response to questions about a potential shakeup at Viacom, one of the companies under his control. It came a week after Dauman, the CEO of Viacom, and Abrams were informed that they have been removed from the seven-member trust that will manage his businesses if he dies or is deemed mentally incompetent. Earlier this month, a judge dismissed a case on his mental competence.
“We have the deepest respect for Sumner Redstone, but it is clear he is being shamefully manipulated,” Viacom said last week, bemoaning the fact that shareholders’ representatives in the company haven’t been given a chance to meet with him. “The Sumner Redstone we knew would never refuse a meeting about his businesses and he certainly would not want advisors to stand in for him.”
Dauman’s lawyer says the big question is whether “our friend and colleague Sumner is under the undue influence of his daughter, surrounded by a web of unfamiliar lawyers and public relations firms that she directs.”