CBS Asks Les Moonves to Step Down Due to Sexual Harassment Allegations
Moonves and CBS will donate $20 million to organizations supporting the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.
Moonves is out and Ianniello is in, said CBS in a September 9 news release. CBS chairman, president and CEO Leslie Moonves has been asked by the CBS board to step down amidst sexual harassment allegations against him. Effective yesterday, chief operating officer Joseph Ianniello will serve as president and acting CEO while the board conducts a search for a permanent replacement. Until a permanent CEO has been found, the board chairman position will remain vacant. Moonves has been married to personality Julie Chen of The Talk and Big Brother fame for 14 years.
According to the news release, Moonves and CBS will donate $20 million to one or more organizations supporting the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace. The donation will be deducted from Moonves’ severance pay. Except for accrued and vested benefits, Moonves will not receive any severance compensation until the board’s independent investigation into the allegations has been completed. In conjunction with Moonves’ removal from the CBS board, six directors have stepped down, and CBS has elected six new independent directors to the board, Candace Beinecke, Barbara Byrne, Brian Goldner, Richard D. Parsons, Susan Schuman and Strauss Zelnick.
“CBS is an organization of talented and dedicated people who have created one of the most successful media companies in the world. Today’s resolution will benefit all shareholders, allowing us to focus on the business of running CBS – and transforming it for the future,” said Shari Redstone, board vice chair, in Sunday’s announcement. “We are confident in Joe’s ability to serve as acting CEO and delighted to welcome our new directors, who bring valuable and diverse expertise and a strong commitment to corporate governance.”
With CBS since 1997, Ianniello has been CBS’ chief operating officer since 2013. He was responsible for strategy across all lines of business, and oversaw the monetization of content across platforms, including the network’s streaming services, CBS All Access and Showtime OTT. Prior to his role as COO, Ianniello was the company’s chief financial officer from 2009 to 2013. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Pace University and an MBA from Columbia University.
Director Bruce Gordon commented on the changes: ““We thank Les for his 24 years of service. Among his achievements, he established a strong management team, giving us great confidence as we accelerate our succession plans and provide continuity of leadership. This agreement maintains an independent Board that is charged with determining the best course for the future of CBS on behalf of all shareholders.”
When the allegations were first disclosed this summer, CBS stock dipped slightly from $57.53 per share on July 26 to $51.28 on July 30. Since then, stock has rebounded and does not seem to be dramatically impacted by Sunday’s news. On Friday, September 7, CBS stock closed at $56.06 per share. As of 7:35 p.m. EDT yesterday, CBS stock was valued at $55.20 per share. This could change once the independent investigation is complete, particularly if the allegations are found to be true.