CBS will soon be loosing Les Moonves as the head of the company as it appears that his time is coming to an end.
As reported by sources on Thursday, the CBS board is “deep in talks” with the chief executive that would result in him leaving the company.
It was reported to the sources by a friend of Moonves whom Moonves had told about the exit talks.
However, the fact is still 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. It can be said that this wasn’t the way he wanted to go because last year only, 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 which detailed allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Moonves. One month ago the CBS board had also hired outside counsel to investigate those claims. The investigation is,however, still continuing.
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 also 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.
On Wednesday, it was reported by The Los Angeles Times 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.
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.
It was also 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.
The analysts of Wall Street said that they 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.