Sumner Redstone Said to Plan Replacements for Trustees Soon

  • Billionaire thinks Paramount studio shouldn’t be sold
  • Dauman, Abrams question legitimacy of removal from trust

Sumner Redstone, days after ousting longtime confidants Philippe Dauman and George Abrams from his family trust, is making plans to name their replacements soon, a person familiar with the matter said.

Redstone is taking further steps to alter the composition of his trust after removing the longtime allies, who dispute whether the 92-year-old is capable of making the decision in his frail state. The trustees will control Redstone’s biggest assets -- his majority stakes in media giants Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. -- after he dies or is declared incapacitated.

Dauman, chief executive officer of Viacom, and Abrams, a Viacom director, were informed late Friday by a lawyer representing Redstone that they were to be relieved of their duties as trustees. A spokesman for Dauman questioned the legitimacy of the decision, calling it a move by Redstone’s daughter Shari to seize control of her father’s holdings.

Michael Tu, an attorney representing Sumner Redstone, issued a statement late Friday night that said the nonagenarian billionaire “took decisive and lawful action today which he firmly believes is in the best interests of Viacom Inc. and its stockholders.”

Redstone disagrees with Dauman’s plan to sell a stake in Paramount Pictures to pay down debt and help the studio turn around its performance, a spokesman said Sunday. Viacom has made false and unfair statements, including that its board members have been denied access to Redstone, the spokesman said. Redstone now won’t meet directly with them because the company made false and unfair statements, the spokesman said.

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