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CBS CEO Les Moonves resigns; company settles battle with National Amusements

CBS Corp. late Sept. 9 announced the resignation of its long-time Chairman, President and CEO Les Moonves amid an ongoing probe into allegations of sexual misconduct. The company also said it had reached an agreement to settle litigation between CBS and majority shareholder National Amusements Inc. over control of the broadcaster.

The leadership shakeup extended to CBS' board as well, with six new independent directors elected to replace five independent members and one National Amusement-affiliated board member who resigned. Following the board changes, there will be 11 independent directors and two National Amusements-affiliated directors on CBS' board.

The post of board chairman will remain vacant while the CBS board searches for a permanent CEO. CBS COO Joseph Ianniello will serve as president and acting CEO in the meantime.

As part of Moonves' exit, the executive and CBS will donate $20 million to one or more organizations supporting the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and efforts to ensure equality for women in the workplace. The donation, to be made immediately, has been deducted from any severance benefits that may be due Moonves following the conclusion of the independent investigation into allegations made against him.

Moonves has said he "may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances," but never used his position to harm anyone's career.

CBS' settlement with National Amusements, the Redstone family holding company that controls nearly 80% of the voting stock in both CBS and Viacom Inc., ends a tangle of lawsuits that CBS and National Amusements filed against each other. CBS had accused National Amusements of breaching its fiduciary duty in pushing for CBS to merge with Viacom, while National Amusements had objected to CBS Corp.'s attempt to dilute its stake in the broadcast via a special dividend.

As part of the settlement agreement, National Amusements said it will not push for a CBS-Viacom merger for at least two years.

CBS' new independent directors are Candace Beinecke, Barbara Byrne, Brian Goldner, Richard Parsons, Susan Schuman and Strauss Zelnick. Remaining on the board are independent directors Bruce Gordon, William Cohen, Gary Countryman, Linda Griego and Martha Minow, as well as Redstone, who is board vice chair, and National Amusements-affiliated Robert Klieger.