Redstone Wanted to Limit Daughter’s Authority

As Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari Redstone battle Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman control of Viacom, some of the 93-year-old media mogul’s less-than-flattering notes about his daughter are becoming public in court filings.

In one letter written less than two years ago, Redstone says: “Recent dealings with my daughter, Shari, have caused me to believe even more strongly that she does not have the requisite business judgment and abilities to serve as Chair of Viacom or CBS.”

He said those interactions reaffirmed conclusions he made in 2007 when he was planning the future of his holding.

Related: Dauman Rejects Face-to-Face Meeting, Redstone Says

The Sept. 29, 2014 letter, attached to Dauman’s memo opposing the dismissal of his lawsuit in Massachusetts, Redstone goes on to encourage the boards of the media companies to exercise their independent judgement in appointing a chairman to replace himself.

The Viacom board this year elected Dauman chairman, with only Shari Redstone voting against. CBS named CEO Les Moonves chairman.

Sumner Redstone has moved to remove Dauman and other Viacom directors from the board of his holding company, National Amusements, and as trustee of the trust that will control his media empire after he dies.

Related: Dauman—Shari Redstone Should Be Nixed as Trustee

Dauman has filed suit saying that the dismissals were improper and that Redstone was under the undue influence of his daughter.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Since that letter was written, Redstone’s live-in companion, Manuela Herzer was evicted from Redstone’s Beverly Hills home, removed as the decision maker for Redstone’s health care and dropped from his will.

Another exhibit in Dauman’s filing is a letter sent to Shari Redstone by her dad in 2009.

Related: Viacom Says 3Q Profits Hurt by ‘Turtles,’ Ad Sales

In that letter, he says he wants Shari to be chairman of National Amusements, Viacom and CBS when he dies but he stresses the post will be non-executive.

“I also want to make clear that Philippe will continue to be the CEO of Viacom and that I would want my trustees to take all steps to make sure that that continues as well,” he says.

In the last few weeks Redstone has moved to remove Dauman and four other directors from the Viacom board. Viacom’s directors have sued, also charging that Redstone is under the undue influence of his daughter.

Related: Shari Redstone Tells Viacom Board—Mind Your Business

On Wednesday, Redstone’s lawyers also filed papers in favor of dismissing the Massachusetts case and opposing Dauman’s motion for an immediate mental examination of the mogul.

The papers say that the trust gives Redstone the power to remove and appoint trustees. It also says that since he has not yet been judged incompetent under the terms of the trust, his actions are valid.

They also argue that an immediate mental exam is not necessary because in the Herzer case he was given several exams.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.