CBS Chief Leslie Moonves Steps Down Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

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CBS Corp. Chairman and Chief Govt Leslie Moonves is stepping down amid accusations that he sexually harassed and assaulted quite a few ladies over his profession, the corporate mentioned, a surprising downfall for one of many leisure business’s strongest figures.

CBS additionally introduced a settlement of excellent authorized disputes with its controlling shareholder, Nationwide Amusements Inc., which can change six members of CBS’s board.

The dimensions of Mr. Moonves’s exit package deal might be determined solely after the regulation corporations CBS’s board employed to analyze his alleged misconduct full their work, the corporate mentioned.

If Mr. Moonves is cleared of wrongdoing, he may stroll away with greater than $100 million, in accordance with an individual accustomed to the matter. But when he’s discovered to have engaged in severe misconduct, he would stroll away with nothing, a number of individuals accustomed to the matter mentioned. Mr. Moonves and CBS agreed to right away donate $20 million to “organizations that help the #MeToo motion and equality for girls within the office,” the corporate mentioned in a press release. That quantity can be deducted from any severance that Mr. Moonves would get.

The regulation corporations tapped by CBS are investigating assault and harassment accusations in opposition to Mr. Moonves that surfaced in a New Yorker article in July. The New Yorker printed on Sunday one other article detailing new allegations from six extra ladies, together with that Mr. Moonves compelled some to carry out oral intercourse, engaged in different violent and intimidating conduct and retaliated in opposition to them when rebuffed.

In response to the most recent claims, Mr. Moonves acknowledged to the New Yorker three of the six alleged encounters however mentioned they have been consensual. Beforehand, he has mentioned he regretted conduct that made ladies uncomfortable however denied retaliating in opposition to those that pushed him away.

“Unfaithful allegations from a long time in the past at the moment are being made in opposition to me that aren’t according to who I’m,” Mr. Moonves mentioned in a press release Sunday, including that he was “saddened” to be leaving the corporate after 24 years.

Earlier, the corporate mentioned in a press release: “CBS takes these allegations very severely. Our Board of Administrators is conducting a radical investigation of those issues, which is ongoing.”

The settlement with Nationwide Amusements additionally comes with a major shake-up of the CBS board: Six new members, together with veteran media govt Dick Parsons, have been elected, the businesses mentioned. Different new board members embody Candace Beinecke, a company governance skilled and senior companion of Hughes Hubbard & Reed; Barbara Byrne, former vice chairman of Barclays Funding Financial institution; Brian Goldner, the chief govt of Hasbro Inc.; Susan Schuman, the chief govt of SYPartners, a enterprise transformation consultancy; and Strauss Zelnick, chief govt of “Grand Theft Auto” maker

Take-Two Interactive Software program

and former chief govt of BMG Music Leisure.

Past Mr. Moonves, six members of CBS’s board will depart, together with David Andelman, a longtime lawyer of Nationwide Amusements’ controlling Redstone household; Charles Gifford, who clashed with Nationwide Amusements President Shari Redstone previously; longtime CBS administrators Arnold Kopelson and Leonard Goldberg, each shut buddies of 95-year-old Sumner Redstone, the ailing Nationwide Amusements chairman; former Sony Music Leisure chief Doug Morris; and Joseph Califano Jr., the founding father of the Nationwide Middle on Dependancy and Substance Abuse.

Mr. Andelman’s departure reduces the variety of administrators related to Nationwide Amusements from three to 2, together with Shari Redstone and Rob Klieger, a lawyer who has represented the Redstone household.

Mr. Moonves’s ouster brings an abrupt finish to a storied Hollywood profession. The 68-year-old rose by the ranks of the TV manufacturing enterprise earlier than coming to CBS in 1995 and ultimately taking the CEO job in 2006. He led a turnaround of CBS’s prime-time schedule with collection similar to “All people Loves Raymond, “The Huge Bang Idea” and the “CSI” franchise.

The CBS chief additionally turns into essentially the most outstanding and highly effective leisure govt to be compelled from his job because the #MeToo motion brings males to account for misbehavior throughout company America. His case has performed out in another way than another outstanding ones, the place allegations or revelations led to an govt’s swift departure; within the case of Mr. Moonves, within the weeks because the New Yorker’s preliminary report the corporate’s stance had been that it will conduct its probe and wait.

Below phrases of Mr. Moonves’s contract, he can be entitled to severance of greater than $180 million in wage and bonus awards if he have been terminated both “with out trigger” or with “good motive.”

A number of of the ladies who got here ahead within the newest report have been outraged by latest information experiences that Mr. Moonves may stroll away with a giant severance payout, in accordance with the New Yorker.

Chief Working Officer Joe Ianniello was named interim chief govt of CBS whereas a search is performed inside and outdoors the corporate for a successor.

The company battle over management, which was separate from points surrounding Mr. Moonves’s private conduct, centered on CBS’s resistance to Ms. Redstone’s effort to merge the corporate with

Viacom
Inc.,

the media conglomerate that the Redstones additionally management.

Ms. Redstone will emerge from a settlement having maintained management of her media empire whereas guaranteeing the CBS board will get contemporary blood, as she sought. She additionally managed to keep away from a trial more likely to increase uncomfortable questions concerning the psychological capability of her father, Sumner Redstone, and her legitimacy on the helm of the empire. Mr. Redstone has 80% of the voting shares of Nationwide Amusements; Ms. Redstone has the remaining.

As a part of the authorized detente, CBS ended its efforts to dilute Nationwide Amusements’ voting management of the corporate to round 20%. Nationwide Amusements amended its bylaws to dam a dividend that will have diluted its affect, and the 2 sides have been gearing up for a authorized battle in Delaware scheduled to begin subsequent month.

As a part of the settlement, Nationwide Amusements has agreed to undo that modification.

Nationwide Amusements additionally agreed it wouldn’t pursue a merger between CBS and Viacom for roughly two years, the businesses mentioned.

Nationwide Amusements additional agreed it will amend the belief that may management CBS and Viacom after Mr. Redstone dies or is deemed incapacitated, in accordance with individuals accustomed to the matter.

The belief prohibits the trustees from continuing with any merger that leaves Nationwide Amusements with lower than 30% of the voting management of the ensuing enterprise. A lot of the CBS board views it as an obstacle to potential offers and potential drag on the inventory.

Write to Keach Hagey at keach.hagey@wsj.com and Joe Flint at joe.flint@wsj.com



Supply hyperlink – https://www.wsj.com/articles/cbs-ceo-leslie-moonves-expected-to-resign-1536525335?mod=pls_whats_news_us_business_f

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