Analyst Richard Greenfield of BTIG Research has tried to peek into the recesses of the trust that will control Sumner Redstone’s assets after he passes on.
He tabs David Andelman, a CBS board member and a trustee of the Redstone trust, as the key to future for CBS and Viacom and the executives who want to run them. Not to mention their shareholders and employees.
But Greenfield notes that those moves have little meaningful long-term significance and that the future of those media companies is in the hands of seven trustees who will control the trust at Redstone’s death.
The opposing sides appear to be led by Dauman, dubbed by Redstone as the wisest man he knows, and Shari Redstone, Sumner’s daughter, who opposed Dauman being named chairman of Viacom but was outvoted by the board’s other members.
By Greenfield’s estimate, Redstone has three votes: her own and those of Tyler Korff and Leonard Lewin, the lawyer who handled her mother’s divorce.
Dauman probably has three votes as well, with his own, George Abrams, Viacom director who voted for Dauman as chairman, and Sumner Redstone’s divorce attorney Norman Jacobs.
That leaves Andelman, who is a senior partner associated with the law firm of Lourie & Cutler P.C. in Boston. He is also a director of National Amusements, Sumner Redstone’s holding company.
What’s at stake?
“If Dauman takes control of the SMR Trust upon Mr. Redstone’s death, he would be able to stack the board of both companies to his liking and remove any management that is not aligned with his strategic vision (such as Les Moonves),” Greenfield said. “Investors lack of visibility around voting control of the SMR Trust, makes investing in either Viacom or CBS shares very challenging today."
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