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CBS reportedly negotiating exit for CEO Les Moonves

Les Moonves' time as the head of CBS appears to be coming to an end.CNBC, citing anonymous sources, ...

Posted: Sep 6, 2018 5:48 PM
Updated: Sep 6, 2018 5:48 PM

Les Moonves' time as the head of CBS appears to be coming to an end.

CNBC, citing anonymous sources, reported Thursday that the CBS board is "deep in talks" with the chief executive that would result in him leaving the company.

Moonves has also told some confidants about the exit talks, a friend who spoke with him about it told CNN.

It is unclear if he is trying to fight the board. Moonves did not respond to a request for comment. Spokespeople for the CBS board and the company declined to comment on the reports.

Moonves is a legendary broadcasting executive and one of the most prominent CEO's in the country. This is not the way he wanted to go. Last year he extended his contract through 2021.

But two developments this year have rewritten the script of his career.

The first development was a dispute over the future of CBS. Moonves and most members of the CBS board have been locked in an ugly legal battle for months with Shari Redstone, who has a controlling stake in CBS and its corporate cousin Viacom.

The second development was the bombshell report in The New Yorker detailed allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Moonves. One month ago the CBS board hired outside counsel to investigate those claims. The investigation is ongoing.

Moonves has acknowledged that he "may have made some women uncomfortable," calling those moments "mistakes." He also insisted that he respected women and that he "abided by the principle that 'no' means 'no,' and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone's career."

In the meantime, Moonves has been keeping a relatively low profile, inside and outside CBS. But he was seen at Senator John McCain's funeral service in Washington last Saturday.

The misconduct claims sparked speculation in the TV business that Moonves might reach a hefty financial settlement and step down from CBS.

That's what appears to be in the works now.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday night that CBS board members were talking about his potential exit. Discussions have focused on the size of a severance package, and on whether Moonves would move to a producer role, the Times reported.

Under the terms of his contract, Moonves may be owed a $180 million severance package. But if he is removed "for cause," relating to the harassment allegations, such an eye-popping severance package would not be in play.

CNBC reported that the board "is offering a roughly $100 million exit package made up almost entirely of CBS stock." Furthermore, "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."

These exit talks are happening in secret, and the details could not be immediately confirmed.

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.

CNBC's report suggested that Moonves' team could get a consolation prize if a settlement is reached. The network reported that Moonves' right hand man Joe Ianniello, the COO of CBS, could replace Moonves as interim CEO.

Ianniello has widely been seen as the top choice to succeed Moonves. When talks to merge CBS with Viacom were on the table earlier this year, Team Moonves pushed for Ianniello to be No. 2.

Wall Street analysts prefer Ianniello, too. In the days after the Moonves allegations first came out, Doug Creutz, a senior research analyst at Cowen, called the Ianniello choice the "least bad solution" to the Moonves problem.

CBS stock was up about 4% in trading early Thursday afternoon.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307519

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20784248
Hinds19894408
Harrison17493302
Rankin13316275
Jackson13099243
Madison9896210
Lee9859169
Jones8293160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7189237
Lowndes6265144
Lamar610784
Lafayette6028117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4770129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4420139
Warren4281118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403775
Neshoba3988176
Lincoln3871108
Hancock372185
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322781
Pike3181104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296876
Copiah293065
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284868
Prentiss275659
Marion265979
Wayne261341
Leake261173
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245982
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213373
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158634
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126323
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120141
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81923
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 519071

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754131487
Mobile37774798
Madison33868494
Tuscaloosa25283443
Montgomery23969565
Shelby23112238
Baldwin20638300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14286311
Morgan14140268
Etowah13664345
Marshall11957219
Houston10383278
Elmore9994200
Limestone9814147
Cullman9475188
St. Clair9429234
Lauderdale9218227
DeKalb8747181
Talladega8060171
Walker7092275
Jackson6755110
Autauga6727103
Blount6488135
Colbert6205130
Coffee5401112
Dale4768110
Russell428938
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia388074
Dallas3527149
Chambers3500122
Clarke346360
Marion3066100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256458
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224955
Hale218775
Butler212366
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171540
Washington164038
Macon154848
Clay149454
Crenshaw149357
Cleburne146041
Lamar139334
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
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