Viacom's legal wins will help Paramount sale process : CEO Dauman

Thu Aug 4, 2016 2:27pm EDT
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By Sai Sachin Ravikumar

(Reuters) - Viacom Inc (VIAB.O: Quote) Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said on Thursday his victories in a legal battle with Sumner Redstone for control of the media company would help him push through a plan to sell a minority stake in Paramount Pictures.

Ninety-three-year-old Redstone, supported by daughter Shari, opposes Dauman's plan to sell a 49 percent stake in Paramount, while Dauman sees it as a way to unlock value for shareholders, who have seen their shares plummet in value in recent years.

Analysts have valued the stake at about $4 billion.

Sumner Redstone is Viacom's biggest shareholder. However, his decision to oust Dauman from both Viacom's board and a trust that will control Redstone's shareholding after he dies or becomes incapacitated is being challenged in the courts on the grounds that he is not of sound mind to make such decisions.

Redstone controls 80 percent of the voting shares in Viacom.

"The (Paramount stake sale) process has slowed down in recent weeks but we have reason to believe the favorable court developments last week will create a better environment that will allow us to progress with several parties toward a highly beneficial transaction," Dauman said on a call with analysts to discuss Viacom's quarterly earnings.

Dauman has scored two important legal wins in the past week.

A Delaware judge ruled that Redstone's lawyers must defend in a trial his move to oust five Viacom directors including Dauman, and a Massachusetts judge rejected Redstone's bid to dismiss a lawsuit by the Viacom CEO.   Continued...

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