Thursday 8 December 2016

Show must go on for Viacom after shake-up in boardroom

Lucas Shaw

Published 09/09/2016 | 02:30

Former CEO Philippe Dauman. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former CEO Philippe Dauman. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Viacom's revamped board will meet next week to discuss strategic options, including the possibility of deals involving movie studio Paramount Pictures, according to people familiar with the matter.

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The directors are holding an all-day strategic review on September 14, sources said.

Former CEO Philippe Dauman submitted details of his talks to sell a minority stake in Paramount to the board last week. It is understood no concrete deal is on the table.

Viacom shares jumped as much 4.7pc on Bloomberg's report.

The Viacom board has the tall task of turning around a media company whose sales, profit and stock price have declined for two straight years.

Boardroom

Shari Redstone, daughter of controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone, has taken on a prominent role in the boardroom since her family dismissed Dauman and installed five new board members.

Shari Redstone is considering recombining Viacom and CBS Corp, people familiar with the matter have said, though any such deal would require the approval of both companies' boards.

Viacom's board must also decide what to do with its $12bn (€10.7bn) in debt. The company can either let credit ratings agencies downgrade the debt, or work aggressively to improve its leverage by cutting its dividend or selling assets.

While selling a stake in Paramount would help Viacom pay off some of its debt, the biggest strategic concern for its new board is the erosion of viewership for its cable channels. MTV and Comedy Central are particular concerns, though even viewership of Nickelodeon has slipped in recent years. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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