Sumner Redstone Says He Does Not Trust Philippe Dauman or His Allies
"I no longer trust Philippe or those who support him," Redstone wrote on Wednesday.
Sumner Redstone was blunt on Wednesday, writing that "I no longer trust Philippe or those who support him," a reference to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.
Redstone, Viacom's chairman emeritus, was responding to an open letter published Tuesday from lead independent director Fred Salerno, who complained that Viacom's board of directors — save for daughter Shari Redstone — have no access to him.
Sumner Redstone removed Dauman from the board of National Amusements, which controls Viacom and CBS through its ownership of nearly 80 percent of the voting shares for each company.
"Strangely, in the last few months, a host of new advisors and spokespeople say they work for you," Salerno wrote in his open letter. "They claim that strongly held views you have expressed for decades have, in the past few months, completely reversed. They say you no longer trust your friends, your advisors, or your board."
Judging from Redstone's response on Wednesday, Salerno summed up the situation fairly, though Dauman and others have maintained that the 93-year-old mogul is being manipulated by his daughter and others.
Redstone's entire response to the letter was: "I reviewed your note. I no longer trust Philippe or those who support him. I am being sued by my fellow board members and my wishes are being ignored. I am determined to act in the best interests of the company and all of its shareholders. I do not trust you or the current board to do the same. So there is no doubt, Rob Klieger and Michael Tu are my attorneys and are acting at my direction."
One of the primary disagreements between Sumner and Shari Redstone and Dauman is the latter's plan to sell a portion of Paramount, the film studio that Sumner Redstone considers "the crown jewel" of Viacom.
Salerno responded to Redstone late Wednesday with a statement reading, "We could clear a lot of this up if Sumner would share his thoughts with me face-to-face."