Fred Salerno, Viacom’s lead independent Director pleads for access to Sumner Redstone

Philippe Dauman has alleged that Shari Redstone, Sumner Redstone’s daughter is manipulating her 93 year old father, a media tycoon who holds a controlling stake in National Amusements Inc, which in turn has controlling stakes in Viacom and CBS Corp.

Warning of increased limitation if Sumner Redstone is made inaccessible to Viacom’s board, the lead independent director of the media company has pleaded for a meeting with Sumner Redstone, who holds a controlling stake in Viacom.

In his letter to Sumner Redstone, Fred Salerno has defended the company’s management over the possible sale of a stake in Paramount Studios.

“Sumner, they tell us they won’t make you available for fear that such a meeting would become the source of more litigation. In reality, putting up a wall around you ensures more litigation – and that is not what we want,” wrote Salerno in his letter, which has now been made public by the company.

When asked to respond to comments on this matter, Redstone’s representative declined comment.

Last month, Philippe Dauman, Viacom’s CEO, along with another director were ejected from the board of National Amusements Inc, which has an 80% controlling stake in Viacom.

In response to this maneuver, Dauman has filed a legal challenge saying Redstone is being manipulated by his daughter Shari Redstone.

Other board members and independent directors have vowed to fight any attempt to oust them from the board saying they found the argument of Redstone being mentally incompetent as “inexplicable”.

The letter further mentions that when the newly appointed lawyers for Redstone staged a drive with Sumner and Shari Redstone to Paramount Studio last week “for a brief visit in which you didn’t get out of your car.”

The sale of a stake in Paramount Studio has been a contentious issue in the battle for control over the 93 year old Redstone’s $40 billion media empire.

Earlier Redstone had stated that he believes that not selling a stake in Paramount Studio was in the best interest of Viacom, however he has made a provision for  possible sale, stating that he is open to listen to arguments which could change his decision.

Recounting the incident when Dauman met Redstone earlier in February in which he briefed him about the new opportunities for Paramount, Salerno wrote, “He reported that you didn’t react, other than to nod when he asked you if you heard him and understood what he said to you,” Salerno wrote.

Subsequently at a Viacom’s board meeting, Redstone did not speak when the board discussed the matter regarding Paramount.

“We are quite concerned that your voice – and views – are not being heard,” wrote Salerno. “When your phone is dialed into our board calls from your home, no one says a word. When we ask for your vote, all we hear is silence.”

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