Les Moonves Could Get Up to $120 Million in Severance, CBS Says in Filing

Just-ousted CEO will perform “transition advisory services” for CBS for up to one year

Last Updated: September 10, 2018 @ 9:55 AM

Recently ousted CBS CEO Les Moonves could receive as much as $120 million in severance, following his exit from the company on Sunday night.

In its 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, CBS Corp. said it would place $120 million in a grantor trust, while an independent investigation looks into the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against the now-former CBS chief. Two law firms — Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton — were hired to investigate the accusations, as well as cultural issues at CBS News and “all levels of CBS.”

Moonves resigned late Sunday from CBS, following a second wave of sexual misconduct allegations that came out Sunday morning.

In a joint release with National Amusements, which controls roughly 80 percent of the voting power in CBS, the company said that Moonves will not receive a severance package “at this time,” and that he and CBS would donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.

But on Monday, CBS laid out a pathway for how would handle any severance package for Moonves.

“In the event the Board determines that the Company is entitled to terminate Mr. Moonves’s employment for cause under his employment agreement and Mr. Moonves does not demand arbitration with respect to such determination, the assets of the grantor trust will be distributed to the Company and the Company will have no further obligations to Mr. Moonves,” the company said in the filing.

But if either the board, or an independent arbitrator, determines that it can’t fire Moonves “for cause” then “the assets of the grantor trust will be distributed to Mr. Moonves.”

The Board said they will make a determination no sooner than 30 days after the investigation wraps and so later than Jan. 31, 2019.

Additionally, Moonves will provide “transition advisory services” for one year, though this can be terminated early if its determined Moonves was fired for cause. “In order to facilitate such transition services, the Company will provide Mr. Moonves with office services and security services for up to two years following his resignation.”

Moonves’ exit comes two months after Ronan Farrow’s bombshell report in the New Yorker, in which six women accused the longtime media mogul of sexual harassment. On Sunday, a new report from Farrow in The New Yorker outlined accusations of sexual assault and harassment from six additional women.

The former CEO’s golden parachute — before the sexual harassment accusations resulted in an investigation — was worth between $184 million and $315 million, according to company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Time’s Up organization last week criticized CBS when reports surfaced that Moonves was due a $100 million severance package.

“This is a precedent-setting moment for CBS — and culture at large. A man accused of rigorously reported allegations of harassment should not be rewarded with a golden parachute,” the advocacy organization said in the statement.

“Les Moonves walking away with a $100 million settlement sends a message to survivors everywhere that powerful men can act without fear of consequence,” the statement said. “We remain in solidarity with the six women who bravely shared their stories, risking their own incomes and careers, as well as the untold other women who may still be afraid to speak out.”

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