Shari Redstone Fires Back at Viacom's Fred Salerno

Eric Ogden
Shari Redstone

Salerno asserted that Sumner Redstone said that his daughter "should not control Viacom."

Shari Redstone has fired off a response — via her spokesperson — to Viacom board member Frank Salerno's assertion that her dad, Sumner Redstone, has for years said that his daughter "should not control Viacom."

The response attempts to debunk Salerno's assertion, put forth Monday in a letter to Viacom constituencies, that Sumner is rejecting Shari's involvement. In fact, if Sumner had his way, she says, she'd be more involved in not only Viacom but also National Amusements, which controls both Viacom and CBS.

"Salerno must have missed the widely reported fact that Sumner named Shari the non-executive chair of both companies in the irrevocable Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Trust in 2002," Nancy Sterling, Shari's spokesperson, said late Tuesday. "He must also have missed the portion of the February Viacom board meeting where Shari was offered the chair position and turned it down."

Salerno's letter to Viacom's constituencies came a week after Sumner removed CEO Philippe Dauman and George Abrams, his friend and attorney, from the trust that will control Viacom and CBS after Sumner, 93, dies or is deemed incapacitated.

In his letter, Salerno acknowledges that there's an effort to remove the entire board at Viacom, except for Shari and Sumner, and he insinuates that effort is being orchestrated by Shari.

"We know that such an attempt, on its face, would be completely inconsistent with Sumner's lifetime commitment to an independent board," he wrote. "It would be equally inconsistent with his stated judgment for many years that his daughter, Shari, should not control Viacom or his other companies."

But Shari, via Sterling, said Salerno and other directors are more concerned with maintaining their directorships than they are in managing the company. The entire "statement on behalf of Shari Redstone" is below:

In his letter yesterday, Fred Salerno said that Sumner Redstone had made the "....judgment for many years that his daughter, Shari, should not control Viacom or his other companies." Today it was reported that Salerno's letter said "...Redstone has always made it known that he did not want his daughter in control of the company." (The Hollywood Reporter) Salerno must have missed the widely reported fact that Sumner named Shari the non-executive Chair of both companies in the irrevocable Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Trust in 2002.  He must have also missed the portion of the February Viacom Board meeting where Shari was offered the Chair position and turned it down. (Shari's Statement)

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.

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 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.

Nancy Sterling

Spokesperson for Shari Redstone

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