Sumner Redstone, the controlling shareholder in both Viacom and CBS, removed Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and board member George Abrams from his trust, appointing his lawyer and a family friend to replace them. He also removed the two Viacom execs from their directorships of National Amusements, his holding company, and named one of his granddaughters to the board. Redstone released an accompanying statement saying, “"This is my trust and my decision. I have picked those who are loyal to me and removed those who are not."
All these changes happened just days before Redstone’s 93rd birthday. Although some assert Redstone is still mentally competent, by all accounts he is in poor health and nearly unable to speak. His mental faculties are under particular scrutiny because the trust will control Viacom and CBS after Redstone’s death, a position of power that those who were ousted are not taking lightly. Yet a competency case brought on earlier last month by Redstone’s former girlfriend was thrown out by the judge, even though an examining psychiatrist testified that he suffers from dementia and delusions.
Many attribute the changes to the manipulation of Redstone’s daughter, Shari. While Dauman and Redstone have always been close, Shari and her father have had a rocky relationship and were even once estranged. Yet since the first of the year, Shari replaced Dauman as Sumner’s health care agent and the pending changes appear to put her in a better position to influence Viacom.