Sumner Redstone has an answer to yesterday’s open letter from Viacom’s Lead Independent Director Frederic Salerno. It questioned whether he was “being heard” now that he’s surrounded by “a host of new advisors and spokespeople [who] say they work for you” — and asked for an in-person meeting.
The word today: Forget it.
“I reviewed your note,” the company’s 93-year-old controlling shareholder says in a message released by his camp. He adds, referring to CEO Philippe Dauman:
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.
Salerno quickly offered his response:
We could clear a lot of this up if Sumner would share his thoughts with me face-to-face.
The public conversation goes to a central question in the dispute that arose after May 20, when Redstone’s lawyers sent messages to Dauman and Viacom director George Abrams saying that they’d been kicked off his family trust and the board of National Amusements — which owns 80% of the voting shares at Viacom and CBS.
Dauman says that Redstone is incompetent and being manipulated by his daughter, Shari, who’s President of National Amusements and Vice Chair of Viacom and CBS. Dauman has noted that he hasn’t been able to see Redstone since early March.
Redstone’s camp denies the charges, saying he’s still calling the shots.
Over the last week, Redstone visited the Paramount lot, where he briefly met with CEO Brad Grey. He was also reported to have met with CBS chief Les Moonves; the company won’t confirm that the meeting took place.