Sumner Redstone reelected to Viacom board

Sumner Redstone reelected to Viacom board
Sumner Redstone in February 2013. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Viacom investors have reelected all of the company's board members, including billionaire executive chairman Sumner Redstone, who is scheduled to turn 91 this spring.

Viacom held its 2014 annual meeting for investors Monday on its Paramount Pictures movie studio lot in Los Angeles. More typically, Paramount's Sound Stage 19 is used as the setting for the Nickelodeon television show "See Dad Run," which features 1970s heartthrob Scott Baio as a stay-at-home dad.

On Monday afternoon, however, it was Redstone, the company's controlling shareholder, and Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman who were holding court in the living room of the sitcom set. And the two men were running alright -- running for reelection to the company's board.

Redstone, whose distinctive red hair has faded to white, made brief remarks to kickoff the meeting. He thanked investors for their attendance and for their continued support.

Only a handful of investors attended the meeting, which lasted just 23 minutes.

Two investors asked questions. One wanted to know whether the company planned to alter its lopsided revenue split (television makes up about 70% of Viacom's revenue and most of its profit, while the Paramount film unit contributes about 30% of the revenue).

No, Dauman said.

"It will be approximately the same," he said, noting the film division's volatility and the more dependable profits from television. "The largest part of our business by far remains the media networks."

Viacom generated $13.8 billion in revenue in 2013 and net earnings of $2.3 billion. The company's stock was up more than 65% last year, and it continues to trade near all-time highs.

Viacom B shares closed Monday at $88.24, up $1.16.

The second investor asked about Viacom's stock buyback program. The company plans to repurchase about $3.5 billion of its shares this year, including $850 million worth of stock this fiscal quarter.

Shareholders overwhelmingly approved the three measures on the proxy ballot, which was not surprising because Redstone controls more than 79% of the voting shares, and thus, he determines the outcome.

In addition to Redstone and Dauman, other directors reelected were: George S. Abrams, Thomas Dooley, Christiana Falcone Sorrell, Alan C. Greenberg, Robert K. Kraft, Blythe J. McGarvie, Deborah Norville, Charles E. Phillips Jr., Shari Redstone, Frederic V. Salerno and William Schwartz.

Shareholders also approved a non-binding measure on executive compensation. In 2013, Viacom paid its top three executives collectivelymore than $100 million. Dauman received a $37 million compensation package; Redstone received $36 million; and Dooley, the chief operating officer, was paid $29 million.

Shareholders also approved the retention of PricewaterhouseCoopers as the company's accounting firm.

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