Coverage: CBS head Moonves is negotiating an exit
Leslie Moonves, faced with an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against him as well as a bitter boardroom battle over the control of CBS, has for the last few weeks been negotiating his potential exit from the network he has run for two decades.
Edmund Lee of The New York Times had the news:
Mr. Moonves has been talking to the board about his possible departure as chief executive, including terms of a payout that would be far less than $180 million, the amount specified in his employment agreement should he leave the CBS Corporation, according to three people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a private bargaining agreement.
The multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Mr. Moonves have partly motivated the talks, which could still break down. Should Mr. Moonves depart, his chief lieutenant, Joseph Ianniello, is likely to be named interim chief executive, two of the people said.
During his tenure, Mr. Moonves, 68, has helped transform CBS from a last-place network into the most watched channel for the last decade, with hits like “The Big Bang Theory” and “Survivor.” That success has made Mr. Moonves one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood and his possible departure has put the future fortunes of the company into doubt.
David Faber of CNBC reported that Moonves is being offered $100 million:
While under his contract he is due as much as $180 million in severance and a production deal, the board is offering a roughly $100 million exit package made up almost entirely of CBS stock, sources said. They said the board also wants the right to claw back some of the compensation if it’s determined that sexual harassment allegations against Moonves are confirmed.
As was widely reported Wednesday, CBS and its controlling shareholder, Sumner and Shari Redstone’s National Amusements, are negotiating a settlement to end their litigation about whether the CBS board has the right to vastly dilute the voting power of NAI. While it is possible the settlement with Moonves and between CBS and NAI could be announced simultaneously, sources said they are not linked.
CBS officials declined comment. The company’s share price opened slightly higher Thursday after the CNBC report.
Brian Stelter and Jill Disis of CNN.com reported that the future of CBS is also in play:
At the same time — whether linked or not — there are talks happening about the future of CBS.
Redstone thought about bringing CBS and Viacom back together as one company earlier this year. But Moonves and CBS resisted the idea in part because Redstone wanted her favored executive, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, to take a prominent position at the new company. Moonves wanted his own team in charge.
CBS took Redstone and her family’s holding company, National Amusements, Inc., to court in May over the spat. A trial date is set for October.
But now there are settlement talks underway on that front as well, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.