Viacom CEO Dauman Tries Reassuring Workers as Brawl for Company Control Rages

It's Business As Usual, He Says

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Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman tried to project calm amid an escalating fight for control of the company.
Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman tried to project calm amid an escalating fight for control of the company. Credit: Business Wire

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman sought to reassure employees that business should go on as usual amid a public legal battle involving the company's 92-year-old controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone.

Mr. Dauman's plan for a turnaround in advertising sales and an increase in movie production will put the company on better footing, the CEO said in a memo to Viacom workers.

"We understand that this is a distraction and it can create speculation and concern," Mr. Dauman said in the memo. "We want you to know that we are keeping our focus squarely on what matters most to all of us - moving our company rapidly and successfully into the future."

Mr. Redstone's declining health over the past two years has set off a power struggle in the Viacom board room and in his $20 million mansion. The war between Ms. Redstone and Mr. Dauman comes as the company struggles to cope with declining cable TV ratings and plummeting stock prices and may impede plans to sell a minority stake in Paramount movie studio to outside investors.

Mr. Dauman has sued to block his removal from the Redstone family trust, arguing that the move goes against the well-established plans of Mr. Redstone. Mr. Dauman and George Abrams, another trustee who was removed last week, filed a complaint in state court in Canton, Mass., on Monday challenging changes made to the trust by a lawyer claiming to represent Mr. Redstone. The suit, which accuses Mr. Redstone's daughter Shari of manipulation, asks a judge to block any action to remove them as trustees.

Mr. Redstone fired back, filing a petition in Los Angeles state court seeking to confirm the validity of his actions in removing Mr. Dauman and Mr. Abrams.

-- Bloomberg News

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