An agreement has reportedly been reached to settle lawsuits for control of the media giant Viacom pending in three states. The holders of the controlling interests, Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari, were in a battle against some company directors who contended that Redstone, at age 93, was mentally impaired and was not competent to make decisions for the company. Viacom, the owner of Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures, has declined in value almost 50% over the past two years. The lawsuit has certainly not helped the company whose profits fell by an astonishing 29% in just the past quarter.
The battle started when Redstone, who effectively controls 80% of CBS as well, fired CEO Philippe Dauman and some others because of these losses. A retaliatory suit was filed by them alleging Redstone’s mental incompetence (he has had several strokes and has difficulty speaking) and manipulation by his daughter, with whom he previously had a troubled relationship. As part of the settlement, CEO Dauman, who Viacom had reportedly paid more than $400 million over the past 10 years, will resign; but he was granted a settlement worth $72 million.