Gabelli Questions Whether Viacom Executive Chairman Is “Mentally Capable'” Of Duties

Gabelli Questions Whether Viacom Executive Chairman Is “Mentally Capable'” Of Duties
Chart via S&P Capital IQ

Mario Gabelli has asked Viacom Inc. to provide information on the mental health of Sumner Redstone, the company’s executive chairman.

Billionaire value investor Gabelli is the second-largest voting shareholder in the media company, and is worried about the mental capacity of Redstone, writes Jessica Toonkel for Reuters.

Redstone lawsuit causes worries for Gabelli

Gabelli made his inquiries after Manuela Herzer, Redstone’s former girlfriend, filed a lawsuit in which she is asking for Redstone to be declared mentally incompetent. She wants to have him examined in order to determine whether he is capable of making decisions of his own accord.

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Despite his rapidly deteriorating condition, he is obsessed with eating steak and “demands, to the extent he can be understood, to engage in sexual activity every day, even though Dr. Gold has repeatedly recommended that he abstain from daily sexual activity,” according to court documents filed in an LA County Superior Court, reports The New York Post.

Herzer filed the suit shortly after Redstone kicked her out of his home near Los Angeles. Gabelli told Reuters that he left a message at Viacom on Tuesday, but he did not specify the name of the person that he called. On Wednesday morning he had not heard back.

Reuters reports that a Viacom spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Gabelli said that he read the lawsuit and is not concerned by it in and of itself, but the press surrounding the issue did concern him.

Is Viacom executive chairman fit to hold the position?

“Too many people are calling me and saying: ‘What’s really going on?'” Gabelli said. “It would be appropriate for a company trading on the New York Stock Exchange to basically make a statement with some kind of veracity … Is he or isn’t he in the position where he should be chairman emeritus or something?”

The WSJ reports:

“All I know is, you cannot have Philippe Dauman, the CEO of a company that has some business issues, in a position where the press is saying maybe there’s some lack of credibility,” Mr. Gabelli said. “I’m just asking for some clarity, which is what any public company has to do.”

Gabelli took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon. He wrote that the company should “give to all shareholders what the Board of Directors know about Executive Chair.”

In response to news of the lawsuit, Redstone’s lawyer Gabrielle Vidal claimed that the lawsuit was baseless. According to William Schwartz, chairman of Viacom’s governance and nominating committee, Redstone’s doctors have attested to the fact that he is still mentally capable. “As has been widely and publicly disclosed, Mr. Redstone’s physicians have publicly attested that he is mentally capable, and this information is consistent with other medical and other information available to me,” Schwartz wrote. Mario Gabelli tweeted the story this afternoon.

Update from Gabelli’s twitter stream

While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala.
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