Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said that the corporate battle with controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone will delay the sale of a stake in Paramount Pictures.
"Naturally recent events have slowed down the process," said Dauman, speaking at the Gabelli & Co. Movie and Entertainment Conference on Thursday. "Our original target of June is going to slip somewhat, but we are continuing to explore the potential of unlocking value with select partners with strategic value."
Redstone has removed Dauman, his long-time friend and advisor, as a director of his holding company and the trust that controls his assets. Dauman has sued, charging that Redstone's actions are improper and that the 93-year-old media mogul is under the undue influence of his daughter Shari Redstone.
Dauman said he couldn't say much about the legal situation with Redstone, but did comment that "one takeaway is it's a lot more fun creating the content than being the content." He thanked the people who work at Viacom for "continuing to do all the good work that they do."
Dauman said that the transaction Viacom is considering would involve selling a 49% stake in the studio. "It will be tax efficient transaction," he said, that will bring about $10 a share to Viacom stock holders, including Redstone and Mario Gabelli, one of Viacom's other largest stockholders.
Dauman said about 40 parties expressed interest in acquiring a stake in Viacom and that number has been pared to a smaller number.
"We could use part of the proceeds to pay down debt to get back to well within our investment grade leverage ratio target, and we would have capital to deploy, especially internationally," Dauman said.
He said that after a transaction, Paramount would continue to benefit from its association with Viacom, and that Viacom would benefit from Paramount.
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