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Exclusive - Viacom lead director turned down offer for another director to meet Sumner Redstone

reuters | Posted on 2016-06-28 01:44 AM

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO Viacom Inc's (VIAB.O) lead independent director Frederic Salerno vetoed an offer by Sumner Redstone's attorneys to have another of Viacom's independent directors meet face-to-face with the 93-year-old media mogul to get an understanding of his views on the media company, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

In the days after Salerno filed suit over Redstone's move on June 16 to oust him and four other directors, including Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, from the Viacom board, Redstone offered to meet with Viacom independent director Charles Phillips, the sources said.

Last week Salerno vetoed the idea, opting instead to continue with litigation, the sources said.

A spokesman for Redstone could not immediately provide comment. Viacom declined comment.

Salerno's dismissal of a possible route toward a settlement shows how far apart the two sides are in the fight for control over Redstone's $40 billion (30.36 billion pounds) media empire, amid questions over whether the magnate is making his own decisions or is even of sound enough mind to do so.

For investors, the impasse could mark the beginning of a long legal battle that will prolong the uncertainty over the future of Viacom.

Redstone's privately held movie holding company, National Amusements Inc, owns 80 percent of the voting shares of Viacom as well as CBS. On June 16, when National Amusements moved to oust the five directors from the board, investors told Reuters they hoped a change in management or a merger between CBS and Viacom could be on the horizon.

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