The fight to control 93-year old Sumner Redstone's Viacom and CBS is intensifying with a new lawsuit brought by Viacom CEO Phillippe Dauman. Bobbi Rebell reports.
The battle for control continues to heat up at 93-year old Sumner Redstone's media giant Viacom as well as CBS. The latest twist: CEO Philippe Dauman and a longtime company director George Abrams are suing to try to stop a move by Redstone that would remove them from a key trust. That trust will determine the direction of the media conglomerate and CBS-including potential mergers and acquisitions. On Friday Sumner Redstone removed them from the trust as well as the board of National Amusements, which owns 80 percent of the voting stock in both Viacom and CBS. According to a statement by his attorney, Redstone expressed concerns to Dauman and Abrams about Viacom's performance and received no response. Viacom said in a statement they have tried many times to meet with Redstone. Dauman says that Redstone's daughter, Shari Redstone, is trying to illegally hijack her father's plans. Shari is vice chairman of Viacom and CBS. In the lawsuit Dauman claims Redstone suffers from diminished mental capacity and is dependent on his daughter. A statement from Shari Redstone said, "It is absurd for anyone to accuse Shari of manipulating her father ... Sumner makes his own decisions regarding whom he wants to see both in his home and elsewhere." Over the past 12 months, Viacom stock has fallen 40 percent, and some shareholders are getting tired of the drama. Reuters Jessica Toonkel: SOUNDBITE: JESSICA TOONKEL, REUTERS CORESPONDENT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I spoke to one of the top owners of voting shares this morning and he just wants to see Viacom sold. He is sick of all the back and forth. He thinks the corporate governance has completely gone afoul and that all of this is getting in the way of any turnaround that the company can possibly hope for. " Viacom has suffered from falling ratings at its cable networks as younger viewers migrate to online and mobile video.