Dooley Tells Viacom Staffers: I’m in Charge

Agreement ‘paves the way for our future,’ new CEO says
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Tom Dooley told Viacom staffers that he has agreed to become interim president and CEO of the embattled media company in a memo late Friday.

He said an agreement had been approved by the boards of Viacom and Sumner Redstone’s family holding company National Amusements, but that the ink isn’t yet dry on the deal.

One source said the long hold up was because one of the trustees of the Redstone trust could not be reached until late in the day.

The agreement signals that Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari Redstone have beaten outgoing Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman in a long-fought battle for control of a $40 billion media empire that includes Viacom and CBS.

“The agreement serves the best interests of Viacom, its shareholders, and you, our employees, and it paves the way for our future,” Dooley said.

Dooley confirmed many of the details of the deal that have already been reported.

Dooley will be CEO until Sept. 30, when Viacom’s fiscal year ends. At that point, he said, “the board, working with me, will make a decision on succession plans.”

He said the board will expand to include five new directors nominated by National Amusements.

Dauman will serve as non-executive chairman of the board unitl Sept. 13.  Dooley praised Dauman’s work at Viacom, ticking off some of the key investments that were made under his leadership.

Those accomplishments might be getting overlooked because of Viacom’s plunging stock price, its lower earnings and the uncertainty caused by the battle for control over Viacom, that now seems to be ending.

Here’s the memo:

Late last night the Boards of Viacom and National Amusements approved an agreement to settle their dispute. Although few legal details remain, the final agreement is expected to be signed and announced shortly. We will share the announcement with you as soon as the ink is dry on the deal.

For now, let me give you the headlines. I have agreed to become interim President and CEO until the end of our fiscal year on September 30, by which time the Board, working with me, will make a decision on succession plans. As part of the agreement, our Board will expand from its current size, adding five new directors nominated by National Amusements. Philippe will continue to serve as Non-Executive Chairman to ensure a smooth handoff before he leaves the Board on September 13. We will both help with the transition during the interim periods.

The agreement serves the best interests of Viacom, its shareholders, and you, our employees, and it paves the way for our future. It was very important to me as well as Philippe, our Lead Independent Director, Fred Salerno, and our entire Board that Viacom have continuity and stability to help us get back to full strength as quickly as possible. The range of expertise on our new Board is impressive and I am confident that their combined energy and experience will make a valuable contribution to Viacom. I will be working closely with our leadership team, the expanded Viacom Board and the Redstone family. I know we all share a desire to guide the company through this transition in the best possible way.

I want to recognize and thank my good friend Philippe, who has been such a big part of my life in and out of Viacom and has led our company capably and compassionately for the last 10 years. I really can’t sum up here how much his support and friendship have meant to me over the years, but his many contributions to Viacom are all around us.

Philippe and I worked side by side with Sumner on the acquisition of Viacom in 1987, the purchase of Paramount Pictures in 1994, and the continuing expansion of our core businesses. During his 10 years as CEO, Philippe supported and nurtured our brands and empowered our creative and business leaders every step of the way. He invested billions of dollars to fund new original content, expanded our distribution footprint in the U.S. and around the world, and bought and built thriving new businesses--like Channel 5, EPIX, The Paramount Channel and Colors, to name just a few. 

Philippe also advocated for change and innovation across the company, helping to create best-in-class advertising sales and content distribution organizations, leading-edge data insight and marketing functions, and a modern workplace that reflects and inspires our creative culture. We will miss his calm demeanor, his sharp intellect and his sure-footed optimism. He was always a champion for Viacom and all of us—standing up for what is right and fair—in the business arena and in our company. He nurtured our inclusive values and made sure that personal and civic responsibility played a central role in everything we did. 

As for me, Philippe will always be my close and trusted friend. And I know that he will continue to be Viacom’s greatest fan and will always root for our success.

As many of you know, Viacom has been my work home for more than 35 years. I care deeply about our company and everyone here. I have worked with so many of you to launch powerful brands, create cultural touchstones and build a global entertainment content engine that is second to none. But I truly believe that Viacom’s greatest accomplishments are still ahead. It is a privilege and honor to be your CEO and I pledge to do everything I can to build on all your hard work and success.

I will keep you informed as we work with the Board to finalize our organization and plans. Thank you again for your amazing support and hard work. I could not be more proud of all of you and our great company.