September 6, 2018 / 1:29 PM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 2-CBS board in exit negotiations with CEO Moonves -source

(Adds confirmation and background)

Sept 6 (Reuters) - Media company CBS Corp's board is in settlement talks with Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves to negotiate his exit, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The board has offered a roughly $100 million exit package, CNBC reported here earlier on Thursday, citing people familiar with the negotiations. The number could not be independently verified.

A New Yorker report in late July featured claims against Moonves from six women spanning different time periods over two decades, from 1985 to 2006. The allegations included sexual assault and unwanted advances.

Moonves will be replaced by Chief Executive Officer Joe Ianniello as interim CEO, according to the CNBC report.

CBS shares were up 0.7 percent to $53.33 in morning trading.

CBS declined to comment. Representatives of the board and representatives for the investigations into Moonves declined to comment.

Moonves, who joined CBS in 1995 and became CEO in 2006, has been locked in a legal battle over control of the company with National Amusements, its largest shareholder, owned by Shari Redstone and her father Sumner who also control media company Viacom Inc.

Viacom shares fell nearly 1 percent on Thursday.

CBS is in settlement talks with Shari Redstone and National Amusements, sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Moonves received total compensation of $69.33 million in 2017, making him one of the highest paid U.S. executives. Under his contract, he is entitled to up to $180 million in severance.

According to the CNBC report, the board wants to reserve the ability to claw back some of the compensation depending on the results of investigations into sexual harassment allegations against Moonves. It was not immediately clear if this could mean Moonves receives less than $100 million or anything at all.

CBS in August said it had retained two law firms and that the board had also set up a special committee to probe the allegations against Moonves.

According to a filing from CBS in April, if Moonves is terminated for cause, or in the event of resignation without “good reason,” no incremental payments and benefits would be made to him.

One of the definitions for "cause" include "willful and material violation of any Company policy that is generally applicable to all employees or officers of the Company, including, but not limited to, policies concerning insider trading or sexual harassment," according to the filing.

Moonves had earlier said he "may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances", which he called mistakes that he regretted immensely, but that he understood "'no' means 'no'" and had never used his position to harm anyone's career. (Reporting by Kenneth Li and Liana Baker in New York and Vibhuti Sharma, Arjun Panchadar and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Meredith Mazzilli)

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