The war over the fate of Viacom continues to intensify, with the media conglomerate blasting efforts to remove the CEO from a trust that could control the fate of the company.
Late Friday, Viacom boss Sumner Redstone (pictured), 92 and in failing health, moved to eject Philippe Dauman, the company’s chief executive and a longtime confidante, from a trust that would guide the company if Redstone is declared incompetent. George Abrams, a lawyer and longtime Viacom director, was also thrown out.
On Saturday, the company blasted back, accusing Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone, of manipulating her aging father to win control of Viacom and National Amusements, a theater chain that serves as a holding company for Redstone’s media assets.
“The actions taken yesterday in Sumner Redstone’s name are completely inconsistent with his long expressed wishes and intent and extremely disruptive and damaging to Viacom and all its shareholders,” a company spokesman wrote in a statement.
During lengthy Viacom board meetings this week, the statement added, neither Sumner nor Shari Redstone raised any concerns. “Not a sound was heard from Sumner, who was connected by phone,” the spokesman wrote.
“Mr. Redstone is being manipulated and used by his daughter in an attempt to accomplish her long-held goal, which Mr. Redstone always opposed, of gaining control of National Amusements and Viacom,” the statement read.
A lawyer for Redstone described the action taken Friday as “decisive and lawful” after the media mogul had raised concerns about Viacom’s performance.
Sumner Redstone was at the center of a salacious lawsuit involving a former girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, who sued after she was evicted last year from his mansion. That suit was dismissed but Herzer filed new papers against Shari Redstone.