Viacom Chairman Says Reports of Missing Meeting ’Exaggerated’

Viacom Inc. Chairman Sumner Redstone opened the company’s annual meeting today with a joke: “To paraphrase my very good friend Mark Twain, who could not be here, the reports of my absence from this meeting have been greatly exaggerated.”

Last week, Carl Folta, a spokesman for New York-based Viacom, said Redstone couldn’t attend and would instead address shareholders in a video presentation. The next day, Viacom announced that Redstone, 88, planned to attend.

After a five minute introduction to the audience of about 110 shareholders, executives and members of the media, Redstone handed the presentation over to Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman, who summarized the performance of the company, the owner of the MTV network and Paramount Pictures.

Net income in the quarter ended Dec. 31 dropped 65 percent, hurt by costs of $383 million related to a dispute with the former shareholders of Harmonix, creator of the “Rock Band” video games, sold in 2010, the company said last month.

Shareholders re-elected all 11 members of the board after the 45-minute meeting.

Viacom rose 1.7 percent to $48.26 at 2:25 p.m. in New York. The shares had gained 4.4 percent this year before today.

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