Shari Redstone, the target of a stern letter from the independent directors of Viacom, fired back Tuesday, saying they ought to be less concerned about her and more concerned about getting the media company turned around.
The board members, headed by lead independent director Frederic Salerno and Viacom's CEO Philippe Dauman have claimed that Shari Redstone has had undue influence over her father Sumner Redstone as he made decisions to remove Dauman from the trust that will control the media mogul’s assets after he dies or becomes incompetent.
They also are bracing for a move by Sumner Redstone to replace the current board and management. While such a move would be within Redstone’s rights as controlling shareholder, the directors said in a letter Monday, they would fight it in court because in the past he’s favored an independent board, professional management and did not want Shari Redstone charge of the company.
In her response, Shari Redstone pointed out the Sumner Redstone made her the non-executive chair of bother Viacom and CBS as part of his trust. She also noted that she turned down the chairman’s position at Viacom during its February board meeting.
“Shari has made it abundantly clear that she has no desire to manage Viacom nor Chair its Board and is fully engaged in running and growing her firm, Advancit Capital. What she has also made clear is that what she wants for Viacom is the best management in place, and strong, independent Directors who will properly oversee that management,” said a statement issued on her behelf.
“The shareholders whom Salerno and the other independent directors purport to represent have already spoken – they want new management at the top and strong Directors with independent oversight on the Board,” the statement said. “The Board should spend less time focusing on 1) Shari and 2) how to maintain their own directorships, and more time on a long term strategy to increase the value for shareholders and to develop a specific long-term plan to turn around the current state of Viacom.”