June 16, 2016
With one bold stroke, Sumner Redstone and his daughter toppled five members of Viacom Inc.’s governing board, including Viacom Chairman and Chief Executive Philippe Dauman, tilting the balance of power at the beleaguered media company.
The Redstone family vehicle, National Amusements Inc., announced that five members of the Viacom Inc. Board of Directors were removed and five new directors had been elected — none of whom are affiliated with the Redstone family.
“The newly elected directors have deep experience in corporate governance of public companies and will provide valuable expertise to Viacom in the areas of media, entertainment and technology,” the company said in a statement. The Redstones also filed court papers in Delaware, where Viacom is incorporated, to affirm the changes.
New Viacom directors are: Kenneth Lerer, managing partner at Lerer Hippeau Ventures and the chairman of BuzzFeed; Thomas May, chairman of Eversource Energy; Judith McHale, president and chief executive officer of Cane Investments and a former Discovery Communications executive; Ronald Nelson, executive chairman of Avis Budget Group; and Nicole Seligman, who until March served as the president of Sony Entertainment Inc.
The removed Viacom directors are: George S. Abrams, Philippe P. Dauman, Blythe J. McGarvie, Frederic V. Salerno and William Schwartz.
Viacom’s chief operating officer, Thomas Dooley, was not removed, suggesting that he may step in as interim CEO when Dauman is forced out.
“The simple truth here is that Sumner Redstone is the controlling shareholder of Viacom,” activist shareholder Eric Jackson, managing director of SpringOwl Asset Management, said Wednesday. “And Delaware law is clear: The controlling shareholder can make changes to management and the board of directors as he or she sees fit.”