Viacom settlement talks resume: source

Tue Aug 16, 2016 10:27pm EDT
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By Jessica Toonkel and Dan Levine

(Reuters) - Settlement talks between Viacom Inc (VIAB.O: Quote) Chief Executive Philippe Dauman and controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone have resumed after weeks of stops and starts, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters on Tuesday.

Settlement terms discussed include allowing Dauman to present to the board his plan to sell a stake in Paramount Pictures in exchange for his exit, according to two other sources, who requested anonymity because negotiations are confidential.

Dauman would be replaced by Viacom Chief Operating Officer Tom Dooley on an interim basis, the sources said, confirming earlier media reports.

A settlement would end litigation in Delaware and Massachusetts over the battle for control over 93-year-old Redstone's $40 billion media empire. Dauman's exit would be welcome news to Viacom shareholders who have hoped for change at the top of the company, whose ratings and advertising revenue have fallen sharply.

Under Dauman, shares of the parent of cable networks MTV and Comedy Central have tumbled more than 40 percent over the last two years.

On Tuesday evening, The LA Times reported that settlement talks had accelerated. The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the situation, reported that one sticking point was when directors would leave Viacom's board.

Representatives for Viacom and National Amusements Inc, Redstone's privately held movie theater company, declined to comment.

Redstone in May removed Dauman and board member George Abrams from Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Inc Trust, which would control Viacom and CBS Corp (CBS.N: Quote) when the billionaire dies or is incapacitated.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO: Sumner Redstone, executive chairman of CBS Corp. and Viacom, arrives at the premiere of 'The Guilt Trip' in Los Angeles December 11, 2012.  REUTERS/Fred Prouser