Viacom Continues to Work on Selling Paramount Pictures Stake
Viacom Inc has urged a judge to expedite Delaware legal proceedings due to the fragile health of Sumner Redstone the media mogul as well as because more delay could hurt the efforts of the company to raise money through selling its Paramount Pictures stake.
The controversial 49% stake sale in the movie studio is the flashpoint in the bitter battle over control of Redstone’s media empire valued at $40 billion.
Lawyers for Redstone have pointed to the plan of CEO of Viacom Philippe Dauman to unload a large part of Paramount as the catalyst for sweeping changes in leadership that have thrown the company, which owns VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, BET and Nickelodeon, into huge turmoil.
Late Thursday, attorneys for Viacom renewed efforts to have the Delaware judge speed up the legal proceeding including the ordering of a competency exam for Redstone, who is 93 years of age.
Both sides hope the judge will determine if a move made in June to dump five board members at Viacom including Dauman and then replace them with other directors was valid.
Viacom said a number of reasons existed to warrant the expedited timetable regarding the legal proceedings.
Attorneys for Viacom said that the possible loss of critical evidence as Redstone’s mental and/or physical health changes from the dates at issue and due to his health and age, the possibility as well of death.
Another reason the expedited timetable is needed is the proposed sale of Paramount. Dauman’s plan to sell part of the media studio angered media tycoon Redstone due to Paramount long being his prized property of entertainment.
In February, Dauman made the announcement of the Paramount sale, shortly after becoming the Viacom chairman. That title was relinquished by Redstone due to poor health.
Dauman wanted to give the buyer’s identity, either a technology firm or foreign investor, by the end of last month, but the legal dispute with the family of Redstone put an end to that wish.
On Thursday, Viacom indicated that it would push forward with the plan it has for Paramount. A delay in these proceedings could create an adverse impact on the valuable transaction involving the media studio.
The filing noted that both Redstone and Shari Redstone his daughter were members of the board of Viacom and through bylaw changes, could veto any transaction for Paramount.
Changes to bylaws require the board of Viacom to vote unanimously for any transaction in Paramount to take place.