Court Decisions Could Speed Paramount Deal, Viacom CEO Says

Viacom Inc. Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman said favorable court rulings last week in the ongoing legal battle with controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone may allow the company to present a deal for a stake sale in Paramount Pictures to Viacom’s board.

Court decisions in Massachusetts and Delaware “create a better environment that will allow us to progress with several parties” in selling a stake in the studio, Dauman said during an earnings conference call Thursday. The rulings may yield a “highly beneficial transaction to present to our board,” he said.

A judge in Massachusetts last week set an October trial date to determine whether Dauman was wrongfully ousted from Redstone’s trust. Meanwhile, a Delaware judge allowed the case by Viacom director Fred Salerno to go forward with a trial scheduled in the same month.

Redstone is facing accusations that his mental health has declined to a point where he’s being influenced by his daughter, Shari Redstone, upsetting years of careful estate and succession planning. The fight over the billionaire’s holdings has overshadowed Viacom for months, delaying deals and leaving many questioning what’s next for the company, which owns Paramount Pictures and MTV, and Redstone’s other company, CBS Corp.