- CBS’ board is reportedly in settlement talks with CEO Les Moonves regarding his exit from the company.
- Though Moonves’ contract entitles him to up to $US180 million, the board is reportedly offering about $US100 million given the investigation into sexual-misconduct claims made against him.
- Moonves has also been experiencing tension with CBS’ controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone, over a potential merger with Viacom.
The CBS board is in settlement talks with CEO Les Moonves over his exit from the company, CNBC’s David Faber reported Thursday, citing “people close to the negotiations.”
If the talks are successful, Moonves’ right-hand man, the chief operating officer Joe Ianniello, will serve as interim CEO, according to CNBC.
A sticking point is Moonves’ exit package, according to the report. While his contract would entitle him to a golden parachute of up to $US180 million, the board is reportedly offering him about $US100 million given the investigation into sexual-harassment claims against the CEO. The board is also reportedly seeking the right to claw back a portion of that package depending on the findings of the investigation.
CBS stock was flat in early trading Thursday morning following the news.
This isn’t the first sign Moonves may be on his way out. Last month, NBC News reported that Shari Redstone, the controlling shareholder of both CBS and Viacom, had been asking around for a possible replacement for Moonves.
Indeed, Moonves would be exiting CBS at a time of twin sources of turmoil for the company.
The first is a protracted battle between Moonves (and the CBS board) and Redstone over whether to merge CBS and Viacom, which her company National Amusements controls. Redstone had favoured such a merger, while CBS leadership did not. The conflict has gone on for months and involved a legal fight over control of CBS that is close to being settled, according to multiple outlets. A “framework” for the settlement would involve CBS stopping its bid to take away voting control from National Amusements, while National Amusements “would refrain from pushing for a merger of CBS and Viacom Inc. for an undisclosed period,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
The more immediate catalyst for talk of Moonves’ exit, however, is the investigation into sexual-misconduct allegations made against him. Six women accused Moonves of sexual misconduct in an explosive New Yorker report in July by the investigative journalist Ronan Farrow, raising questions about the company culture at CBS. The women accused Moonves of forcibly touching or kissing them or of negatively influencing their careers when they turned down his advances.
Moonves has so far been allowed to remain CEO during the investigation.
CBS declined to comment to CNBC and did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
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