Viacom says its board has not had access to Redstone

Sat May 21, 2016 3:02pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Viacom Inc said on Saturday its board members have been unable to meet with controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone because his daughter Shari is blocking access to the media mogul.

Viacom's criticism of Shari Redstone comes a day after Sumner Redstone, 92, removed Viacom Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman and Viacom board member George Abrams from the seven-person trust that will determine the fate of Redstone's $40 billion media empire that includes Viacom and CBS Corp in the event of his incapacitation or death.

"It is clear that Shari Redstone has isolated her father and put his residence on lockdown, which provides clear evidence of her exercise of undue influence," a spokesperson for Viacom said in a statement.

Many attempts by Viacom's board to meet with Sumner Redstone have been denied, Viacom said.

In response, Shari Redstone said in a statement on Saturday: "I fully support my father's decisions and respect his authority to make them."

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Redstone, who turns 93 next week, had the power to remove certain members of his trust, including Dauman.

Sumner Redstone removed Dauman and Abrams as trustees and directors of his privately held movie theater company National Amusements Inc after he expressed concerns about Viacom's performance to them and received no response, according to a statement from Michael C. Tu, a lawyer representing Redstone.

Viacom, like other media companies, has suffered from falling ratings at its cable networks as younger viewers migrate to online and mobile video.

A spokesman for Dauman on Friday called the steps to remove him from the trust "illegal and invalid."   Continued...

A woman exits the Viacom Inc. headquarters in New York April 30, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo