Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone made his second decisive move intwo weeks as chief executive officer Tom Freston was ousted from the company yesterdayafter more than 25 years of service.
Philippe P Dauman, the 52-year-old former deputy chairman,replaces Freston as the new president and chief executive officer, and Thomas EDooley has been appointed to the newly created position of senior executive vicepresident and chief administrative officer.
Speaking in a conference call with reporters early on TuesdayRedstone stressed Freston's departure was not related to Tom Cruise. Two weeks agoRedstone went over the heads of Freston and Paramount chairman Brad Grey whenhe said the studio would not renew its contract with the star, and citedCruise's eccentric public behaviour and its effect on box office as the keyreasons.
Redstone wants to reclaim greater control over the company at atime when its stock price has been falling and communication with Wall Streethas deteriorated.
He is also clearly anxious that Viacom becomes more aggressive inthe online arena, and expressed annoyance during the conference call over losingout to Rupert Murdock's News Corp in the bidding for the online portalMySpace.com.
Freston was one of the founding fathers of MTV but had drawn firefor Viacom's subdued stock performance since the split from sister company CBSCorp.
"I have great respect for Tom Freston and want to personallythank him for his tremendous contributions to Viacom over the past 20years," Redstone said. "Tom successfully built MTV Networks into anunmatched force in the entertainment industry and assembled a best-in-class operationalteam to build on that foundation. Tom has been a friend and a colleague formany years and we wish him well as he moves on to the next stage of hiscareer."
"I've spent over 26 years at Viacom, 18 of them withSumner," Freston said. "With my exceptional colleagues, we built aworldwide powerhouse of brands and businesses, literally from scratch. I leavemany good friends knowing that they have an unmatched track record, a greatplan going forward and incredible abilities to execute on it in this digitalage. I have worked closely with Philippe Dauman and Tom Dooley over the yearsand have the highest respect for their abilities.
"I have every confidence that Viacom is well positioned toprosper under Philippe's leadership. I will do all I can to insure a smooth transition.I particularly want to thank my colleagues from all over the company who havebeen inspiring to work with and have been so instrumental in the great successwe've had."
Dauman and Dooley, who are currently members of the Viacom boardof directors, served in a number of senior executive positions including deputychairmen from 1996 to 2000. Dauman will report to Redstone and the Viacom boardof directors. Dooley will report to Mr. Dauman.
Since 2000, both have served as co-chairmen and chief executive officersof the private equity firm DND Capital Partners. Dauman has been a director ofViacom since 1987 and served as a member of Viacom's executive committee and asexecutive vice president in charge of strategic transactions, legal andgovernment affairs, human resources and administration from 1994 to 2000. Healso assumed supervisory responsibility for Paramount Entertainment, and was general counsel of Viacom.
Dooley held various corporate positions at Viacom from 1980 to2000, including member of the executive committee and executive vice president,finance, corporate development and communications. He served as a member of theViacom Board from 1996 to 2000 and rejoined the board in 2006.
"I have worked closely with Philippe Dauman for many years,and I have a comfort level with him and high regard for his leadershipabilities, strong financial and operational skills, and superb judgment,"
Redstone added. "The entire Viacom board and I are confidenthe has the strategic and creative vision to take the company forward and thedrive and energy to execute relentlessly on our strategy.
"I am also very pleased that Tom Dooley, who has workedvery closely with Philippe and me over the years, has agreed to join us andbring his broad experience and considerable skills to bear in our efforts toaccelerate Viacom's profitable growth in a rapidly evolving media environment.