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New Legal Group Begins to Take Shape at ViacomCBS

Dec. 19, 2019, 4:32 PM

ViacomCBS Inc. has tapped Henry Moniz as compliance chief, the latest in a series of top legal appointments by the newly-minted media giant, according to an internal memo viewed by Bloomberg Law.

The appointment follows the closure earlier this month of a mega-merger between Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. The deal, which yielded advisory roles for at least a half-dozen law firms, reunited CBS and Viacom under the Redstone family’s ownership after 13 years apart. The transaction also created the need for new reporting lines and titles in the combined company’s legal and compliance departments.

Two sources familiar with the inner workings at ViacomCBS said that the first round of in-house appointments came within the past week and that more will be announced early next year.

Moniz, the new executive vice president and chief compliance officer at ViacomCBS, is a former Bingham McCutchen partner who joined Viacom in 2004 and most recently led its compliance function. Moniz will report as compliance chief to ViacomCBS president and CEO Robert Bakish, and as chief audit executive to Barbara Byrne, chair of the audit committee for the combined company’s board of directors.

Former Shearman & Sterling partner Christa D’Alimonte, who replaced Michael Fricklas as Viacom’s general counsel in 2017, is now executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary for the combined company, a leadership section on ViacomCBS’ new website shows. D’Alimonte, a former deputy leader of the M&A practice at Shearman, which advised Viacom on its recent reunion with CBS, first served as a deputy general counsel at Viacom after joining the company in 2012.

New Lawyer Lineup

ViacomCBS disclosed in a securities filing last week that Jonathan Anschell, an executive vice president, deputy general counsel, and corporate secretary at CBS since early 2016, has the new role of executive vice president and general counsel of ViacomCBS Media Networks. A source briefed on the promotion said Anschell’s position will see him oversee legal matters for all of ViacomCBS’ cable networks, which include BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Showtime, TV Land, and VH1.

Laura Franco, a veteran CBS in-house lawyer who took over as general counsel following the March 1 departure of predecessor Lawrence Tu, will remain an executive vice president and general counsel for CBS-branded businesses, three sources familiar with the in-house changes at ViacomCBS said. Franco and Anschell, as divisional law department leaders, don’t appear on ViacomCBS’ top leadership page.

Other recent appointments include Michelena Hallie, who has spent more than 25 years at Viacom in New York, becoming a senior vice president and deputy general counsel for privacy and risk management at ViacomCBS. Naomi Waltman, who also spent more than two decades in a variety of in-house legal roles at both Viacom and CBS, is now an executive vice president and associate general counsel for litigation at ViacomCBS in New York.

Veronica Jordan will also continue to serve as general counsel for Simon & Schuster Inc. Jordan, who initially joined the New York-based book publisher owned by CBS in 1995, was promoted to Simon & Schuster’s general counsel role in March to succeed Hazel-Ann Mayers when the latter returned to CBS to serve as an executive vice president and chief business ethics and compliance officer.

Amy Dow, who joined Viacom’s MTV unit in 2008, is now a Los Angeles-based senior vice president and associate general counsel for labor and employment law at ViacomCBS. Rebecca Prentice will also continue to serve as executive vice president and general counsel for Paramount Pictures Corp., the film studio in Hollywood, Calif., which had been owned by Viacom.

Other C-Suite Moves

More lawyers have also recently joined ViacomCBS in positions outside of its legal and compliance departments. The company announced in November its hire of executive vice president and chief people officer Nancy Phillips, who began her career as an attorney.

Phillips, most recently chief human resources officer at Nielsen Holdings plc, appears on ViacomCBS’ senior leadership page along with Marva Smalls, the company’s new global head of inclusion and executive vice president of public affairs for its Nickelodeon kids brand. Smalls, who isn’t a lawyer but headed diversity efforts at Viacom, will reportedly replace the retiring Josie Thomas, a New York lawyer who spent 30 years at CBS in a variety of roles, most recently as chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Another lawyer listed as part of the new C-suite at ViacomCBS is Doretha “DeDe” Lea, a former global government affairs chief at Viacom now serving as an executive vice president for global public policy and government relations at the combined company. Lea will also report to Bakish and take over a role once held by veteran CBS lobbying John Orlando, who will leave the combined company, according to an October report by trade publication Broadcasting & Cable.

The new board of directors at ViacomCBS includes several lawyers, among them nonexecutive chairman Shari Redstone, the daughter of billionaire Harvard Law School graduate Sumner Redstone.

Other attorneys on the ViacomCBS board include Hughes Hubbard & Reed senior partner Candace Beinecke, Hueston Hennigan partner Robert Klieger, former Sony Corp. general counsel Nicole Seligman, as well as New York Law School graduate and Infor Inc. CEO Charles Phillips Jr. Hughes Hubbard advised CBS on its $11.7 billion merger with Viacom, while Klieger took over Sumner Redstone’s former board seat at CBS two years ago after representing the Redstones in their bid to oust former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.

Klieger’s board role will see him represent the interests of the Redstone family and National Amusements Inc., a Norwood, Mass.-based movie theater chain that owns a controlling 79 percent stake in ViacomCBS, according to Bloomberg data.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; Alexis Kramer at akramer@bloomberglaw.com

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