Viacom’s New Interim CEO Tom Dooley to Depart Company – Yes, Already

Company drops dividend and earnings expectations, calls off search for Paramount buyer

Last Updated: September 21, 2016 @ 7:04 AM

Viacom’s new interim CEO and president Tom Dooley is set to exit the company — yes, already.

Additionally, the company announced on Wednesday that it has dropped its dividend payout and formally called off the search for a Paramount buyer, a minority stake sale that the Redstone family was always against.

Dooley will stick around until November 15, 2016, an attempt to maintain some semblance of stability in the extreme short term. He only technically replaced Philippe Dauman within the past few weeks.

As for the dividend, that will now be reduced to $0.20 per share, an effort to preserve capital, the company said.

Finally, Viacom has revised its fourth-quarter 2016 earnings estimate, shifting guidelines to the $0.65-$0.70 range (or $0.55-$0.60 sans adjustments for Dauman’s costly severance expenses). That change accounts for a programming impairment charge of $115 million in the company’s filmed entertainment segment for the fiscal fourth quarter, which is related to the expected performance of an unnamed unreleased film.

“While this was a difficult decision for me, I have great admiration for our new board and I feel that they will be best able to execute on their vision for the company in the hands of a new president and CEO,” Dooley explained his decision. “I am certain that the board will make the most of the company’s extraordinary potential. I want to thank Sumner, Shari and the members of the board for the opportunities they have provided me. I look forward to working with them to deliver Viacom into the hands of new leadership in excellent shape and poised for a remarkable future.”

“The board believes Viacom has a product strategy that is among the best in the industry. The steps we are taking will make the Company financially stronger and more flexible and will position Viacom to take advantage of future growth opportunities,” added Tom May, chairman of the board. “I am pleased that Tom Dooley has agreed to stay on as interim president and CEO through November 15 to allow the board to conduct an orderly succession process.”

Shari Redstone, vice chair of the board, said: “I have been energized by the passion, commitment and ideas put forward by our newly-expanded board and members of Viacom’s senior team. While there is more work to do, the actions announced today are an important first step towards realizing the value of Viacom’s exceptional assets and positioning the company for the future. I also want to thank Tom Dooley for his service and his willingness to stay on through this transition period.”

Dauman recently accepted a big settlement to peacefully step down from atop Viacom, a publicly traded entertainment media company that is mostly controlled by the Sumner M. Redstone Trust and National Amusements, Inc. That small group of individuals also oversees CBS, which used to be one with Viacom. The Les Moonves-led company has been doing far better than its spinoff, however, staving off the drama there.

Mogul Sumner Redstone used to be Dauman’s friend and mentor — that all changed this year. The two executives have battled through the press and legal system lasting all of 2016, with Sumner’s daughter, Shari, playing a key role in the skirmish.

The Dauman side claimed Shari was pulling puppet-strings attached to her ailing 93-year-old father, an allegation Redstone attorneys have vehemently denied. Ultimately, the Redstone side won, kicking Dauman to the curb, turning over the Viacom board, and keeping the struggling Paramount Pictures all for themselves.