Fri, Jul. 15, 11:41 AM
- Unsurprisingly, National Amusements -- Sumner Redstone's holding company, which owns 80% control of Viacom (VIA -2%, VIAB -1.8%) -- is reaffirming its opposition to any deal to sell a stake in Paramount Pictures.
- That comes after fresh news that Viacom has held talks with China's Dalian Wanda Group over selling 49% of the studio. This spring, amid a battle for control of Viacom, Redstone reportedly expressed opposition and displeasure with the reports that Viacom would consider a sale of his "baby."
- Selling a Paramount stake is bad for shareholders and even limits other strategic options, National Amusements says in a statement: “Any short-term benefits that might result from a Paramount transaction would be outweighed by the severe negative impact on Viacom’s future strategic flexibility to best capitalize on this important asset.”
- That means NA could go for a deal in the future, as it said the studio's fate shouldn't be decided by people “who may be leaving the board shortly" -- directors ousted by NA but allowed to stay on while multiple court cases go forward.
- Updated: Viacom responds. "It is beyond understanding that 'National Amusements' would continue in its attempts to interfere with a potential transaction that would create a unique opportunity to drive long-term value for both Paramount and Viacom, without even waiting for the facts. We will continue to pursue the best outcome for all of Viacom’s shareholders."
Thu, Jul. 14, 11:10 AM
- TV network Epix has named Jonathan Dakss its chief digital officer.
- Dakss was vice president of Media Labs at NBCUniversal, where he led a cross-functional team that focused on such programs as virtual reality and 360 video, as well as social TV and "second screen" among other initiatives.
- Epix, a joint venture between Viacom (VIA +0.7%, VIAB +0.8%) and its Paramount Pictures studio along with Lions Gate (LGF +2.2%) and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, has been pushing digital development with a number of firsts in online distribution and authenticated "TV Everywhere."
Mon, Jul. 11, 11:05 AM
- Viacom (VIA -2.7%, VIAB -2.2%) is lower today as Wells Fargo downgrades it to Underperform after a fresh look at earnings models in its Media and Telecom sector.
- Domestic advertising is healthy, Marci Ryvicker and team write, but Viacom's networks aren't joining in the gains. CBS (CBS +0.4%) and Time Warner (TWX +0.5%) are "fine," with estimates left as is, but "when it comes to VIAB, we can't put this lightly -- we significantly cut numbers," saying estimates for domestic affiliate fee growth went to negative $30M from the previous $39M in gains.
- "We know this is currently trading on corporate governance 'events,' but we don't see how anyone can come in and successfully turn this company around over the next 12 months," Wells says. "It has fallen too far too fast, in our opinion, esp. in cable nets (which have LT contracts)."
- On average, the analysts expect 5% affiliate fee revenue growth; ESPN (DIS +0.3%) could be mid-single digits ("due to easy comps") and high single digits for everyone else except Viacom, for which it expects a bit decline.
Thu, Jul. 7, 2:17 PM
- CEO Philippe Dauman can't win his battle with the Redstone family over his job, top investor Mario Gabelli says to Reuters, and so it's inevitable that Dauman will exit Viacom (VIA +3.6%, VIAB +3.4%).
- Gabelli is No. 2 in voting power at Viacom, behind Sumner Redstone and his National Amusements firm, and he believes the ultimate outcome of the fight is set.
- "He has to leave," Gabelli said. "It's a matter of when, not if."
- In May, Gabelli had suggested that for him, Dauman had six months to try to turn things around. At the time, he characterized Dauman's skirmishes with Shari Redstone (Sumner's daughter) as "creative tension."
- An anticipated showdown between Dauman and Shari was averted as Dauman is skipping the media moguls' gathering going on at Sun Valley.
Thu, Jul. 7, 12:09 PM
- In a Sun Valley media conference tradition, cable mogul John Malone weighed in on one of his most frequent questions: evaluating the current environment for mergers and acquisitions.
- "There's always M&A opportunities," he said. "I have nine different public companies I'm involved in, and they're always looking for opportunities."
- As for cheaper European assets post-Brexit: "Cheap is a relative term; I think it depends on your longer-term view. I think Britain's gonna be fine; I think the EU is gonna be fine. I think there are gonna be some banking, capitalization issues that have to be dealt with."
- He's coming off a $4.4B deal to combine his Starz network (STRZA +1.8%) with Lions Gate (LGF +3.1%), and "they're both subscale ... this gives them the opportunity to be bigger, be a little more aggressive in investing in content, trying new things."
- Malone's more interested in the TV business, but Lions Gate will get a new outlet for its films after tough times at the box office: "Theatrical is a tough business and you can run hot and cold ... The question is can you tame the movie business to reduce the volatility?”
- Asked about Viacom (VIA +3.1%, VIAB +3%) -- currently embroiled in a succession drama and (logically) speculation about combining it with other firms: “I’m hoping that all settles down and everybody is treated fairly,” said Malone. “Sumner [Redstone's] been a long-term friend and sometimes partner and sometimes 'frenemy.' You hate to see the stress of a family situation. I certainly hope it all works out to everybody’s benefit."
- On Viacom's sale of a Paramount stake: "Would I? The theatrical side? No, that would not be where I would go." But Viacom has "got some great assets and right now because of the turmoil they're substantially undervalued."
Tue, Jun. 28, 6:08 PM
- National Amusements (Sumner Redstone's holding company) is keeping up its full-court legal press against the board of Viacom (VIA +2.8%, VIAB +3%) with a new letter to directors expressing concern over actions "antagonistic to the interests of Viacom and its shareholders."
- "Highly personal and vicious attacks" by ousted Viacom directors including Fred Salerno, George Abrams and Philippe Dauman are not only offensive and unacceptable, the letter says: "More importantly, however, those allegations, even if they could somehow be proven, would have no impact on the legitimacy of National's actions with respect to Viacom."
- The letter goes on to construct a scenario where even if Redstone is incapacitated, he and Phyllis Redstone are replaced by Shari Redstone and Tyler Korff, and the vote would be the same, even if Dauman and Abrams "could somehow force themselves" back onto the National board. "There is no world in which Mr. Dauman and Mr. Abrams could have vetoed that decision."
- "The voting shareholders have spoken, and the reaction of the market strongly suggests that the other shareholders agree," the letter concludes. "We urge you to listen."
- Updated: Viacom responds. "It matters a great deal to Viacom’s shareholders and Viacom’s board if Sumner Redstone lacked capacity or was unduly influenced in the making of recent and dramatic governance changes. Under the law, the implications would be grave if a court were to rule that recent changes were infected by Shari Redstone’s undue influence and any improper acts allegedly in Sumner Redstone’s name. Any ‘vote’ made under these circumstances would be meaningless. Individuals who have taken part in such a scheme could and should be ruled unfit to serve as trustees or board members.”
Mon, Jun. 27, 6:02 PM
- The team of media mogul Sumner Redstone is responding to reports that Viacom (VIA -5.3%, VIAB -5.1%) chief Philippe Dauman and fellow boardmembers are being prevented from meeting with Redstone -- by saying that the Viacom board is actually blocking such a meeting.
- In a statement, Redstone spokesman Mike Lawrence says the "fiction has been shattered" as Redstone has agreed to make his wishes clear in a meeting with independent director Charles Phillips, but that the board prevented that face-to-face meeting.
- Redstone's National Amusements acted earlier this month to remove five directors, including Dauman, from the Viacom board, though that move has been challenged in court.
- "Philippe and his allies long ago stopped caring about what Sumner wants, or even the shareholders generally," the statement says. "It’s all about self-preservation."
- Updated: A Viacom spokesman responds. “The statement from Mr. Redstone’s ‘strategy team’ is both inaccurate and incomplete. The only fiction that has been shattered is that a meeting would be permitted that could actually assess Mr. Redstone's capacity and undue influence. The one fact not in question is that an examination to assess Mr. Redstone’s capacity and undue influence needs to happen. We will have no further comment until we hear from the courts."
Mon, Jun. 27, 3:40 PM
- In a new setback for computer users, Google (GOOG -0.9%, GOOGL -0.5%) and Viacom (VIA -5.5%, VIAB -5.3%) prevailed in a lawsuit over children's Web privacy, though Viacom will still face one charge tied to the case.
- The two companies won on appeal of a class action suit that had charged them with illegally tracking children under 13 who visited Nickelodeon's website.
- That largely upholds a January 2015 ruling, but resurrects one state-law claim against Viacom saying the company promised not to collect children's info on Nick.com but did so anyway. That claim is remanded to a New Jersey District Court Judge.
Fri, May 27, 3:59 PM
- A Massachusetts judge has granted the request of Viacom (VIA +5.8%, VIAB +3.9%) CEO/Chairman Philippe Dauman to expedite his effort to reverse the decision removing Dauman from Sumner Redstone's trust.
- Yesterday, Dauman had asked for a trial date no later than September on his challenge, and said that he would require a medical exam of Redstone to evaluate his mental competency. The judge today set a hearing for the morning of June 7.
- Dauman and Viacom board ally George Abrams were removed last Friday from the seven-member trust that will eventually manage Sumner Redstone's assets, including controlling stakes in Viacom and CBS (CBS +1%). Dauman and Abrams are alleging that Redstone's daughter Shari is manipulating the 93-year-old in order to get control of the companies.
- Previously: Viacom now up 5% after expanded Cox carriage deal (May. 27 2016)
- Previously: CNBC: Viacom board preparing for wholesale ouster as soon as today (May. 27 2016)
Fri, May 27, 1:32 PM
- Amid a wait for some kind of shoe to drop with its board, Viacom (VIA +5.5%, VIAB +5.2%) is making a move up as it has renewed and expanded a carriage deal with Cox Communications, which should provide some consolation for investors worried about systems dropping the company's channels.
- Cox will carry 22 Viacom channels plus Epix (its JV with MGM and Lions Gate). Viacom owns such networks as Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and BET.
- Cox, the country's No. 3 cable provider, will also expand its selection of programs available via on-demand platforms.
- Viacom stock also made a move up last month after it forged an in-doubt renewal of its carriage deal with Dish Network.
Mon, May 23, 2:02 PM
- Sumner Redstone has actively petitioned the L.A. County Superior Court late this morning for an order confirming the validity of his removing trustees from his SMR National Amusements trust (which eventually controls a $40B media empire).
- That follows earlier news of a lawsuit by Viacom (VIA +3.4%, VIAB +3.4%) chief Philippe Dauman and fellow director George Abrams challenging what was their Friday removal from the seven-member trust. In the suit, they allege that daughter Shari Redstone is hijacking Sumner's wishes.
- Sumner Redstone hasn't been judged incompetent, "nor did Mr. Dauman or Mr. Abrams seek to have either of these things occur, or raise any issue concerning Mr. Redstone’s capacity to make decisions concerning the Trust, until they were removed as trustees," says a statement from Sumner's team.
- "Mr. Redstone is saddened that Mr. Dauman is trying to make this dispute about his daughter," the statement continues.
- Meanwhile, Mario Gabelli, the second-largest shareholder in Viacom, tells CNBC that the fight between Shari and Dauman is "creative tension" and that Dauman has six months to turn things around. He hasn't spoken with Sumner, but did have lunch with Shari in the past six months.
- CBS, for its part, has hung around flat in today's trading, though many observers consider its chief Les Moonves to be an ally of Shari's -- and thus to have a fate that will be the opposite of Dauman's (if Dauman successfully remains on the trust, Moonves may be out).
- Now read Viacom: Opportunity Hidden In A Soap Opera »
Mon, May 23, 9:34 AM
- Philippe Dauman, CEO and chairman of Viacom (VIA, VIAB), and fellow director George Abrams have now filed suit in order to challenge their removal from the seven-member trust that will control Sumner Redstone's media empire (including Viacom and CBS) after him.
- With the market able to respond to the drama, Viacom shares are on the climb: VIA +4.3%; VIAB +3.4%.
- Dauman and Abrams were removed from the trust this weekend, and have now issued a complaint in Massachusetts Probate and Family Court.
- Dauman says Redstone's daughter Shari is trying to "illegally hijack" Sumner's estate plans with the reported addition of three sympathetic replacements to the trust: "We all continue to have great respect and affection for Mr. Redstone, but he is clearly being manipulated by his daughter, Shari."
- He goes on to say Shari's actions amount to an "unlawful corporate takeover" that could "have far-reaching consequences for thousands of shareholders and employees of Viacom."
- For her part, Shari says in a statement that the accusation is "absurd"; Sumner "makes his own decisions regarding whom he wants to see both in his home and elsewhere" and "as to the idea that Shari, an attorney and respected businesswoman, would ‘unlawfully’ use his name, that is utterly ridiculous.”
- Now read It's Time To Fire Philippe Dauman »
Mon, May 9, 11:46 AM
- A judge has dismissed the mental competency case against Sumner Redstone, the mogul with voting control of CBS (CBS -2.1%) and Viacom (VIA -1.9%, VIAB -1.8%).
- Judge David Cowan had spent the weekend considering dismissing the case filed by Redstone's ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, after viewing a videotaped deposition of the 92-year-old on Friday where he referred to her with profanity and said "I want Manuela out of my life."
- Herzer had challenged her removal as Redstone's healthcare agent (and expulsion from his home and life), charging that he wasn't in his right mind. The case brought to light contentious succession discussions at the two companies and stirred long-simmering family conflicts.
- Previously: Judge to consider dismissing Redstone case over weekend (May. 06 2016)
- Now read It's Time To Fire Philippe Dauman »
Mon, May 2, 5:57 PM
- In the latest turn of the Sumner Redstone competency trial drama, the 92-year old mogul won't take the stand but will face a deposition on video, in his home, limited to 15 minutes.
- The video will be shown to the court, but won't be made public -- though the trial itself will be, Judge David Cowan ruled. One attorney for each side will be present.
- But nobody else expected to testify, nor any family, will be allowed. Redstone's speech therapist will sit in to act as an interpreter if needed; Redstone's speech has been affected by his health.
- The trial is set to begin Friday, and while Redstone's testimony is key to ex-girlfriend Manuela Herzer's case over his healthcare wishes, it (and any testimony by Viacom chief Philippe Dauman) may have repercussions for the futures of the companies Redstone controls, Viacom (VIA +2.6%, VIAB +2.6%) and CBS (CBS +1%).
- Now read Viacom: Opportunity Hidden In A Soap Opera »
Thu, Apr. 28, 1:08 PM
- Viacom (VIA -1.5%, VIAB -1.9%) says it's culled a list of 40 bidders for a stake in Paramount Pictures down to a handful, with negotiations set to start late next month.
- Chief Philippe Dauman gave the update on the company's conference call following its fiscal Q2 beat today. Shares are lower as domestic ad sales proved a disappointment, dropping for the seventh straight quarter.
- "There is strong interest from all around the world," Dauman says of the minority interest in the venerable studio that Viacom is shopping. Chinese suitors are still a favorite for many reasons, including the chance for Viacom to get a stronger presence in a burgeoning cinema market.
- Meanwhile, other suitors are falling by the wayside as they would have preferred majority control of the studio.
- Also today, Viacom announced a partnership with Roku to deliver targeted advertising using aggregated audience insights. "This is the first time dynamic, 1:1 advertising will be possible as part of a larger linear TV buy," says Viacom's Kern Schireson.
- And it introduced Vantage Studio Edition, a version of its data-driven offering targeted exclusively to movie studios. It's set to combine title-level film ticket purchase data with household viewing behavior.
- Now read Viacom: Opportunity Hidden In A Soap Opera »
Thu, Apr. 28, 11:50 AM
- Viacom has recovered from early losses but is still trading down (VIA -1.7%, VIAB -2%) after its fiscal Q2 beat expectations but showed continuing declines in ad sales.
- Expense cuts helped adjusted net profits beat expectations at $303M, which still declined 35% Y/Y. Revenues dropped 2.6%, but just 2% ex-forex, and currency effects were pronounced in advertising (international ad revenues fell 1% including a 7% negative impact from forex).
- Revenue by segment: Media Networks, $2.38B (down 3%); Filmed Entertainment, $655M (down 1%).
- Domestic ad sales fell 5% despite price hikes, amid continuing ratings softness. Domestic affiliate revenues dropped 2% as subscribers declined modestly and rates were cut across part of the base.
- In Filmed Entertainment, declines in home entertainment and ancillary revenues more than offset gains in license fees and theatrical revenues.
- Media Networks showed an operating gain of $805M (down 11%), but Filmed Entertainment swung to a $136M operating loss.
- Press Release
Viacom, Inc. is a global entertainment content company, which connects with audiences through compelling television programs, motion pictures, short-form video, applications, games, brands for consumer products, social media and other entertainment content. The company operates business through... More
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