Philippe Dauman's Fortune Interview: 6 Takeaways

Philippe Dauman - H 2016
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Philippe Dauman - H 2016

"The press loves drama. People are missing the business story. This is a great place to work," Dauman tells Fortune magazine.

Embattled Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who hasn't spoken much to the press since his feud with Viacom board members Sumner and Shari Redstone flared up, granted an interview to Alan Murray of Fortune magazine a day after Sumner Redstone moved to oust him and four other directors from Viacom's board. Here are six highlights:

1. Dauman defended his $54 million compensation package — at a time when the stock has declined — by noting he won't realize all of it unless the stock recovers. "I do not in fact collect the money that I'm being reported as having received," he says. In fact, due to the large number of shares he owns, he says, "I have suffered along with shareholders." 

2. Challenged about the 50 percent slide in the stock price amid falling revenues for the past two years, Dauman says that "smart" investors recognize that the stock is undervalued and the company poised for growth. "We have one investor [Capital Research] who went from nothing to become the biggest shareholder of Viacom," he says.

3. Fortune also asserts that Viacom, which once owned the younger demographic, was slow to embrace the digital revolution, a notion Dauman rejects. "We have our content everywhere. We have close relationships with all the social media companies," he says. "We were the first company to engage with SVOD companies like Netflix, and Hulu and Amazon."

4. Dauman says Viacom is not in a creative lull, noting that, in cable, "we have more top shows than anybody else across our family of networks." Nickelodeon, he says, has nine of the top 10 shows for kids, and Lip Sync Battle "is a big global hit on Spike and now in 90 countries."

5. Fortune also asks Dauman to explain why he testified in November that Sumner Redstone had his wits about him but, now that the 93-year-old mogul has moved to get rid of him on the Viacom board, Dauman is basically contradicting his previous testimony, suggesting Redstone lacks mental capabilities. "The issue at hand there was about his health care. And as I said, he was attentive and engaged," Dauman explains. "But this context is totally different. We weren't addressing significant business decisions."

6. When Fortune asks Dauman what the big thing is that people are missing with the Viacom story, the CEO says: "The press loves drama. People are missing the business story. This is a great place to work."