CEO Exit Wraps Up Sumner Redstone Competency Battle

     (CN) — Resigning his office Saturday, the CEO of Viacom withdrew civil claims that Sumner Redstone’s daughter had wrested control of the 93-year-old media mogul’s empire.
     The boardroom fight at Viacom spread to the courts earlier this year after Redstone removed Viacom CEO and Chairman Philippe Dauman and board member George Abrams from their leadership positions at CBS and National Amusements, the Massachusetts-based company that owns controlling shares of Viacom and CBS.
     Redstone asked a Los Angeles judge to support the move; National Amusements filed a similar action in Delaware; and Dauman and Abrams meanwhile brought a a lawsuit in Massachusetts that questioned whether Redstone has dementia.
     As rumors of a settlement swirled last week, Viacom announced on its website Saturday that the parties resolved their “governance dispute.”
     As part of the settlement, Dauman agreed to resign immediately as president and CEO of Viacom.
Thomas Dooley, who had been chief operating officer, will succeed Dauman as interim president and CEO at least through the end of September.
     Dauman will remain as nonexecutive chairman of the board of Viacom through Sept. 13, allowing him the opportunity to present his proposal of a possible sale of a minority equity stake in Paramount Pictures, which will be considered by Viacom’s Board.
     The sale would require unanimous decision from the board.
     Sumner Redstone will remain chairman emeritus, and his daughter Shari Redstone will remain nonexecutive vice chair.
     Dauman was conciliatory in a statement released as part of the Viacom announcement.
     “I care deeply for Viacom, which has been an important part of my life since I joined Sumner in the acquisition of the company 30 years ago,” he said. “I believe this agreement will give the company and its employees the best opportunity to continue a smooth evolution into the future. I will do my utmost to ensure an effective board and management transition in my remaining time as nonexecutive chairman.”
     Although Sumner Redstone has not publically commented on the settlement, daughter Shari Redstone praised Dauman for his service while also celebrating the leadership change.
     “By strengthening Viacom’s governance and leadership, these changes will enable the company to embark swiftly on a strategy that strengthens its position as an industry leader,” she said.
     The daughter’s other titles include vice-chair of CBS and Viacom and president of National Amusements.

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