Viacom Inc. strongly denied a newspaper report that CEO Sumner Redstone stood up in a
board of directors meeting last week and said that under no circumstances would
chief operating officer Mel Karmazin's contract (which goes through 2003) be renewed.
Of course, Viacom has been in denial mode for weeks on the issue of the
genuine ill will that has developed between Redstone and Karmazin.
Last Friday, the company went so far as to issue a press release that quoted
the two executives as saying they "are looking forward to working together
productively in the ensuing years."
That's a crock -- no doubt designed to calm panicky investors -- and everybody
Here's what one well-known and widely respected analyst had to say about
Viacom's executive battle last week: "Sumner thought he had the horsepower to
force Mel's resignation at the board meeting. Redstone will attempt another run
in a few months."
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