Tom Freston is leaving Viacom, less than a year after the company split from CBS. Amid a lagging stock price – down 20 per cent since last January when it split from CBS – the Viacom CEO resigned. Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone issued a statement on Tuesday morning with the news. Freston, 60, will be replaced by a member of the board, Philippe Dauman.
Dauman, 52, is a Viacom veteran who in the 1990s led divisions that are now part of CBS – Paramount Entertainment, Showtime and Simon & Schuster. He left Viacom in 2000. Most recently, he was co-chairman and CEO of DND Capital Partners, a private equity firm he founded in May 2000 with Thomas Dooley, who will also be joining Viacom staff. Dooley, 59, is another member of the board and a Viacom veteran from 1980 to 2000 and was appointed to a newly created position, Senior Executive VP-Chief Administrative Officer.
There was much talk that Freston was unhappy as CEO and preferred the more tactile job he had as CEO of MTV Networks – although Bill Carter, in his book ‘Desperate Networks’, reported Freston to be Redstone’s first choice to run Viacom Corp when it included both Viacom and CBS. The book also indicated that Freston was Hamlet-like in whether he wanted to take the job at all, and finally agreed after Redstone told him if he didn’t take the Viacom CEO job, it would go to Leslie Moonves, now CEO of CBS Corp, and to prevent Moonves from leaving, Freston agreed to share the job with him.
In a statement, Redstone thanked Freston and endorsed Dauman. “Viacom has tremendous potential to grow aggressively, both domestically and internationally… I have worked closely with Philippe Dauman for many years, and I have a comfort level with him and high regard for his leadership abilities, strong financial and operational skills, and superb judgment,” he said.
Dauman, who has been a director of Viacom since 1987, served from 1994 to 2000 as a member of Viacom’s executive committee and as executive vice president in charge of strategic transactions, legal and government affairs, human resources and administration, He had supervisory responsibility for Paramount Entertainment, Showtime Networks and Simon & Schuster. From 1993 to 1998, he was also general counsel of Viacom, the company said.
Dooley held various corporate positions at Viacom from 1980 to 2000, including member of the executive committee and executive vice president, finance, corporate development and communications, the company said. He served as a member of the board from 1996 to 2000 and rejoined the board in 2006.