Viacom stock surged more than 5% Friday after a report that largest shareholder Sumner Redstone could call a special meeting to replace the company’s entire board of directors, including executive chairman and CEO Philippe Dauman.
According to CNBC’s David Faber, Viacom’s board is ready to file suit to block any drastic moves by Redstone, who has in the past week focused his ire on Dauman, a man he once called “the smartest man I know.”
Viacom shareholders benefitted from the turmoil, with shares rising 5% ($2.10 each) to $44.63 per share this afternoon. These moves and others have pushed Viacom stock into positive territory since the beginning of the year as Redstone, fresh off a salty court video deposition that helped get a lawsuit brought by his former girlfriend and caregiver dismissed, has taken aim at Dauman and the Viacom board.
Redstone is supposedly upset with Dauman’s plans to sell a minority interest in Paramount Pictures, the movie studio he grappled with media mogul Barry Diller for in the 1990s.
As the owner of 80% of Viacom’s vote, Redstone could carry any agenda he wants at a special shareholder meeting, which is forcing board members to prepare for the worst.
Former Verizon Communications vice chairman Frederic Salerno, Viacom’s lead independent director, has been seeking a face-to-face meeting with Redstone to determine his take on company strategy and his overall well-being.