Sumner Redstone has removed Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman from the seven-person trust that controls the fate of Viacom and CBS in the event of his death.
Dauman quickly attacked the the move as “invalid and unlawful,” accusing Sumner’s daughter Shari Redstone of “unlawfully” manipulating her ailing 92-year-old father’s signature.
The move further pits Dauman against Shari Redstone, the media billionaire’s daughter. Longtime trustee George Abrams has also been removed, according a spokesman for Viacom who confirmed Dauman and Abrams’ removal.
The removal of Dauman and Abrams from the trust puts Shari Redstone, who is also on the trust and vice chair of both CBS and Viacom, more securely in control of the family’s multi-billion-dollar empire once Sumner Redstone passes. Redstone is 92, and recently won a court victory that allowed him to keep Shari as his primary healthcare agent.
The remaining trustees are now: Norman Jacobs, Sumner’s divorce lawyer; and Leonard Lewin, an attorney who represented Redstone’s first wife, Phyllis, in her divorce from Sumner, Shari Redstone and her son lawyer Tyler Korff and David Andelman, another lawyer who has worked with the Redstone family and is on the CBS board.
Shari Redstone has been on a collision course with Dauman. In February, she made waves following her father’s resignation as chairman of Viacom and CBS by publicly opposing Dauman’s promotion to that title at Viacom given how enmeshed he was in the Redstone family trust and legal affairs.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan dismissed a lawsuit questioning Redstone’s mental competency, leaving Shari installed as his primary healthcare decider — a position she won in April from Dauman and, before him, former girlfriend Manuela Herzer.
The Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Inc Trust owns about 80 percent of Redstone’s privately held movie theater company, National Amusements Inc, which in turn owns 80 percent of the voting rights in both Viacom and CBS.
In his statement denouncing his removal from the trust, Dauman said:
“These steps are invalid and illegal. They are a shameful effort by Shari Redstone to seize control by unlawfully using her ailing father Sumner Redstone’s name and signature. As she knows and as court proceedings and other facts have demonstrated, Sumner Redstone now lacks the capacity to have taken these steps. Sumner Redstone would never have summarily dismissed Philippe Dauman and George Abrams, his trusted friends and advisors for decades.”