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Viacom Names Salerno Lead Independent Director

Viacom said its board of directors has named Fredric Salerno as Lead Independent Director, a new position that would serve as a liaison between independent member of the board and Viacom’s top management.

In a statement, Viacom said Salerno’s  primary responsibilities will include coordinating the activities of the independent directors and to serve as a liaison between the executive chairman, president and CEO and other independent directors. The company said the new role will enhance its corporate governance practices, which already include a majority of independent directors and board committees that are comprised solely of independent directors.

"Fred has been a strong leader as a member of our board and his judgment, broad perspective and experience will serve him and the board well as he undertakes his new role as Lead Independent Director,” Viacom executive chairman, president and CEO Philippe Dauman said in a statement. “I am committed to strong governance practices that are thoughtful, focused and proactive, particularly in this time of transition for the company. I am delighted that Fred has agreed to take on this important new role that will help maintain a sharp focus on the interests of our entire shareholder base.”

Salerno is the former vice chairman and chief financial officer of Verizon Communications – he retired in 2002 after two years in that role – and has served as a Viacom board member since 1994 and is a member of the Viacom board’s compensation committee. Salerno also is a director of CBS.

Salerno is a veteran of the telecom business, serving president of NYNEX Worldwide Services Group from 1991 to 1994, as vice chairman, of finance and business development at NYNEX from 1994 to 1997 and as vice chairman and CFO of Bell Atlantic (Verizon’s predecessor) beginning in 1997.

“I am honored to have been selected by the independent members of the board as Lead Independent Director, and I look forward to greater involvement in representing Viacom’s shareholders,” Salerno said in a statement. “Philippe has set out a clear vision for Viacom that is focused on its unique strengths and global ambitions. I believe that we are poised for tremendous accomplishments and that Viacom’s management team will deliver even greater value in the years ahead.”