What's Going On With CBS, Viacom And Sumner Redstone? Credit Suisse Takes A Look
Sumner Redstone has removed Philippe Dauman and George Abrams from the boards of both National Amusements and Redstone's Trust. Credit Suisse’s Omar Sheikh said that unless this decision is reversed, it could have serious implications for both Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB) and CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS).
Philippe Dauman is the President and CEO of Viacom. Sumner Redstone's lawyer mentioned that Mr. Redstone had expressed concerns regarding Viacom’s performance. Mr. Redstone could potentially use his voting interest [of about 80 percent] to remove Dauman from the CEO role.
“It is clear from public statements from the Viacom board that they fully support Dauman, but it is hard to see how they could prevent his removal if that is, in future, Redstone's wish,” analyst Omar Sheikh wrote.
Mr. Redstone has also reportedly expressed his disapproval of Mr. Dauman’s plan to sell off a minority stake in Paramount Pictures. Mr. Redstone could use his voting interest to halt the sale of a partial stake in Paramount, which Viacom's management was planning to conclude by June-end, Sheikh mentioned.
Mr. Redstone’s Mental Capacity Called Into Question
A spokesman for Dauman questioned Mr. Redstone’s mental capacity to make decisions. If proven, this could exert pressure on the boards of Viacom and CBS to take steps to protect the interests of minority shareholders. This could also trigger the transfer of control over Mr. Redstone’s about 80 percent voting interest to the five remaining trustees of the Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Inc. Trust.
“We note that a spokesman for Dauman called Redstone's action to remove him and George Abrams "invalid and illegal". This suggests to us that a legal challenge to their removal is possible. We would argue that the outcome of such a challenge would likely need to be seen before the boards of Viacom or CBS can decide on the appropriate course of action for both companies,” Sheikh commented.
The analyst has Outperform ratings for both Viacom and CBS, with price targets at $55 and $75, respectively.
Latest Ratings for CBS
|Oct 2016||Wunderlich||Initiates Coverage On||Buy|
|Sep 2016||Telsey Advisory Group||Downgrades||Outperform||Market Perform|
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