Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman was removed as a trustee in the trust that will control 92-year-old Sumner Redstone’s media empire when the mogul dies or becomes incapacitated.
The move is a victory for Shari Redstone, who is battling Dauman for control of her father’s assets, worth $40 billion. In April, Shari Redstone was the lone dissenting vote against naming Dauman chairman of Viacom, replacing Sumner Redstone in that role.
Dauman accused Shari Redstone of manipulating her father in order to gain control of Viacom.
Also removed from the trust that will control National Amusements, which controls about 80% of Viacom and CBS, was Viacom Director George Abrams.
The move was initiated by Sumner Redstone, who two weeks ago won a suit that challenged his competence to make health care and financial decisions.
Shari Redstone said she repected her father's authority to make decisions.
Dauman, who testified as to Redstone’s mental sharpness, protested the moves made on behalf of his long-time boss and benefactor.
“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,” according to a Viacom spokesperson.
“There has been no communication from Sumner Redstone. In fact, during an in-depth strategy session of Viacom's Board Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday, not a sound was heard from Sumner, who was connected by phone. Shari Redstone, also connected by phone, did not raise a single concern during the Board session on any topic,” the statement added.
“The only contact was a written communication on Tuesday from Mr. Tu, a lawyer previously unknown until this week to anyone associated with Sumner other than Shari Redstone. It is clear that Shari Redstone has isolated her father and put his residence on lockdown, which provides clear evidence of her exercise of undue influence,” the statement went on.
“Despite many attempts by members of Viacom's board, including the lead independent director, to meet with Sumner they have been denied access. Mr. Tu, when asked by the board’s independent counsel in response to Mr. Tu’s letter, could not even confirm he has met Mr. Redstone,” the statement said.
“The picture is quite clear, Mr. Redstone is being manipulated and used by his daughter in an attempt to accomplish her long-held goal, which Mr. Redstone has always opposed, of gaining control of National Amusements and Viacom,” the statement concluded.
Shari Redstone, who has had an on-again, off again relationshp with her dad, now seems to be tight with the mogul.
“l fully support my father's decisions and respect his authority to make them," Shari Redstone said in a statement via a spokesman.