Viacom Is Considering Three Internal Candidates for CEO

  • Company is also weighing sale of its Epix movie channel stake
  • Controlling Redstones shake up media company’s management

Viacom Inc. is considering three internal candidates as part of its search to replace interim Chief Executive Officer Tom Dooley following a management shakeup at the struggling TV and movie company, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The three executives are Wade Davis, chief financial officer; Robert Bakish, the head of Viacom’s international TV networks; and Scott Mills, who oversees human resources and is chief administrative officer, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The company is also weighing the sale of all or part of its 50 percent stake in the Epix premium movie channel, according to two people.

Robert Bakish, left, Wade Davis, center, and Scott Mills

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/ Noam Galai/WireImage/Getty Images/Andrew Serban/Bloomberg

The New York-based company, which has seen its profit and stock price tumble in the past two years, abandoned plans this week to sell a minority stake in its Paramount Pictures unit. That sale, championed by former Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman, was designed to bring in money the company could use to invest in new movies and TV shows and reduce debt. Dooley was named interim CEO last month and will leave in mid-November.

Viacom declined to comment. The company, the owner of Comedy Central and MTV, is looking both internally and outside for a new CEO, the person said, although no specific external names have been floated. The Redstone family, which controls 80 percent of the voting shares in Viacom, ousted Dauman and added five new directors in a bid to boost the company’s performance this year.

A sale of Viacom’s Epix interest could raise as much as $1 billion, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence valuation. John Janedis, a Jefferies analyst, valued Viacom’s stake at $911 million in a Sept. 19 report.

Epix, a pay-TV channel, is a joint venture with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Lions Gate Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer has said that he also may be interested in selling his Epix stake.

“The fact of the matter is that at 31 percent, Epix is not truly a strategic platform for us, and I think our partners over there have known about the possibility of this transaction for some time,” he said on a June conference call. “I look forward to having conversations with them about maximizing our mutual investment.”

Viacom is grappling with plunging box-office results at its Paramount film division, as well as losing ad sales and viewers at its much-larger TV networks division.

Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore is leaving the movie unit, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, days after Viacom said it will record a $115 million charge for a film that hasn’t been released.

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