Coverage: CBS will appoint independent counsel to investigate CEO
CBS Corp.’s board left Chief Executive Leslie Moonves in his post on Monday as it discussed sexual harassment claims against him and took steps to select an outside counsel to lead an independent investigation into the matter.
Carl O’Donnell and Liana B. Baker of Reuters had the news:
It was not immediately clear if Moonves would stay on for the duration of the investigation.
Moonves, 68, is one of the global media industry’s highest-paid executives and could receive a severance package of more than $180 million based on his contract and the terms of his departure, according to CBS filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The media and TV company on Friday disclosed plans for a probe after the New Yorker magazine published an article detailing claims by six women who said Moonves sexually harassed them in incidents between 1985 and 2006.
Moonves, who joined CBS in 1995 and has been CEO since 2006, has said that he “may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances”, which he called mistakes that he regretted immensely, but that he understood “‘no’ means ‘no’” and had never used his position to harm anyone’s career.
Dade Hayes of Deadline Hollywood reported that CBS stock fell 5 percent on Monday:
The stock ended the session at $51.28 a share on five times the normal trading volume. It has been on an up-and-down ride in 2018, losing more than 10% of its value since the start of the year.
While CBS fell 6% on Friday, the drop was mostly a reaction to a statement from the CBS board that it was looking into the matter. The article itself went online after the close of trading, so today is the first full day on Wall Street where the Moonves factor was fully in play. Six women came forward to tell the magazine’s Ronan Farrow about the misdeeds of Moonves, including their claims that he engaged in retaliation over the encounters.
Edmund Lee of The New York Times reported that the board faces criticism:
Mr. Moonves is well known in the entertainment community but has spent the bulk of his career in executive suites, rather than in front of the camera. Still, the CBS board could face recriminations from consumers and from those who believe it should have taken immediate action.
“It’s shortsighted and cowardly of the board,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management. “They think they’re showing courage on behalf of the C.E.O., but they’re just circling the wagons right now.”
Mr. Moonves, 68, has been the chairman of the CBS board since 2016, and the majority of its 14 members started their tenures after he was appointed chief executive in 2006. Three of the 14 are women, and the board’s average age is 73.
At least two members expressed concern over Mr. Moonves’s continued leadership in the days leading up to the Monday meeting in New York, two people familiar with the matter said.