Viacom’s board of directors has elected former Verizon vice chairman Frederic Salerno to the newly created role of lead independent director.
The move is seen as an effort to assuage critics of Viacom’s corporate governance and the composition of its 11-member board of directors. As lead independent director, Salerno will coordinate among the other independent directors and liaise with Viacom chairman-CEO Philippe Dauman. Dauman recently took on the chairman role in addition to serving as CEO. as controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone is in failing health.
The Viacom board has been criticized for approving a $54 million pay package for Dauman last year even as the company’s share price sank more than 40%.
“Fred has been a strong leader as a member of our board and his judgment, broad perspective and experience will serve him and the board well as he undertakes his new role as lead independent director,” Dauman said. “I am committed to strong governance practices that are thoughtful, focused and proactive, particularly in this time of transition for the company. I am delighted that Fred has agreed to take on this important new role that will help maintain a sharp focus on the interests of our entire shareholder base.”
Salerno has been a Viacom director since 2006, and he was a board member of its predecessor starting in 1994. He’s also a board member of CBS Corp., which is controlled by Redstone.