CBS boss Moonves resigns over new sexual misconduct allegations

Move came as more women accused him of sexual assault and harassment on Sunday

Leslie Moonves the former chairman and chief executive of  CBS. Photograph: Reuters

Leslie Moonves the former chairman and chief executive of CBS. Photograph: Reuters

 

Leslie Moonves, the top executive at CBS Corp since 2006 and a major figure at the broadcast network and media company for more than two decades, resigned on Sunday amid a new wave of allegations against him of sexual assault and harassment.

His departure as chairman, chief executive and president was confirmed by the company in a statement coinciding with its announcement of a deal to end litigation against majority CBS shareholder Shari Redstone and National Amusements for control of CBS.

Chief operating officer Joe Ianiello will take over as interim chief executive as the board searches for a replacement, according to the announcement.

The settlements end years of uncertainty over the future of CBS and could potentially open the door to future deals.

The announcement came after six more women accused Mr Moonves of sexual assault and harassment in a report published on Sunday in the New Yorker magazine.

The newly disclosed incidents, which the women said occurred between the 1980s and early 2000s, included claims of forced sex, Mr Moonves exposing himself and his alleged use of physical violence and intimidation.

“Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am. Effective immediately I will no longer be chairman and chief executive officer of CBS,” Mr Moonves said in a statement on Sunday.

Mr Moonves, who turned CBS from an aging radio and TV broadcaster into a successful provider of shows to digital platforms, was expected to reap an estimated $100 million in severance.

But Mr Moonves (68) could end up with nothing pending an investigation into the allegations of violence against women conducted by law firms hired by an independent committee of the CBS board of directors.

CBS said it and Mr Moonves will donate $20 million of his severance to organizations supporting the #MeToo movement.

“Today’s resolution will benefit all shareholders, allowing us to focus on the business of running CBS - and transforming it for the future,” Redstone said in a statement.

“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.”

National Amusements agreed to avoid pressing for a merger of CBS and Viacom, which is also controlled by National Amusements, for at least two years.

In earlier court filings, NAI had dropped support for a deal before it was sued in May by CBS for control of the company. The settlement does not preclude other parties from suggesting a merger or bringing other potential transactions to the board, one source said.

Five current independent directors and one National Amusements-affiliated director have stepped down from the board of directors and six new directors have been elected, the company said.

Three of the new board members are women, each considered a trailblazer in their respective fields, bringing the total to six on the 13-member board.

They are: Candace Beinecke, a senior partner at international law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed; Barbara Byrne, a retired vice-chairman of investment banking at Barclays, and Susan Schuman, CEO of SYPartners, a business consultancy.

Also new to the board are: Richard Parsons, former chairman of Citigroup and Time Warner; Brian Goldner, CEO of Hasbro; and Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two Interactive. - Reuters