Viacom director pleads for access to Sumner Redstone
By Dan Levine
(Reuters) - Viacom Inc's (VIAB.O: Quote) lead independent director on Tuesday pleaded for a meeting with controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone and warned of further court battles if the media tycoon remained inaccessible to the board.
In a letter from Fred Salerno to Redstone, made public by the company, Salerno also defended Viacom management's handling of the possible sale of a stake in movie studio Paramount.
"Sumner, they tell us they won't make you available for fear that such a meeting would become the source of more litigation," Salerno wrote. "In reality, putting up a wall around you ensures more litigation – and that is not what we want."
A representative for Redstone declined to comment.
Last month Redstone ejected Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman and another director from the board of National Amusements Inc, which controls 80 percent of the voting shares of Viacom.
Dauman filed a legal challenge to that maneuver, arguing that Redstone was being manipulated by his daughter Shari.
Salerno and Viacom's other independent directors then vowed to fight any attempt to oust them from the board, saying they found "inexplicable" the assertion that Redstone was mentally competent.
In the letter, Salerno said new lawyers for Redstone staged a drive with the billionaire and his daughter to the Paramount studio last week "for a brief visit in which you didn't get out of your car." Continued...