CBS settles lawsuit over company control; Moonves to resign: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) - CBS Corp CBS.N has reached deals to settle litigation over the future of the company with its controlling shareholder Shari Redstone and National Amusements Inc and an exit agreement with CEO Leslie Moonves, two sources familiar with the discussions said on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: CBS chief executive officer Les Moonves arrives at the premiere of CBS Film's "Extraordinary Measures" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, U.S., January 19, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/File Photo

The settlement and Moonves’ resignation could be announced as early as before the markets open on Monday, according to these sources who asked not to be identified because the plans have not been made public. The timing of the announcements could still change as the settlements are reviewed.

The latest developments end years of uncertainty over the future of CBS, which was headed to court with National Amusements on Oct. 3.

Joe Ianniello, CBS chief operating officer, is expected to be named interim CEO and the board will launch a search, the sources said.

National Amusements has also agreed to not raise the possibility of a merger between CBS and Viacom Inc VIAB.O for about two years, which it had all but abandoned before CBS sued its shareholder in the spring, two sources said.

CBS and National Amusements declined to comment.

Moonves could end up with nothing.

As part of the settlement, CBS will donate a portion to an unnamed charity and reserved the right to claw back the rest of a severance package depending on the results of investigations into allegations of sexual assault and harassment, sources familiar with these discussions said. The value of the total package was estimated at $100 million, according to reports last week.

Two outside law firms are conducting the investigation.

The settlement comes on the heels of a second report from the New Yorker published on Sunday in which six additional women have raised assault and harassment claims against Moonves. An earlier New Yorker report revealed six women who alleged similar behavior by Moonves between the 1980s and early 2000s.

In a statement to the magazine, Moonves acknowledged three of the encounters, but said they were consensual.

But reports of Moonves settlement last week drew fire from advocacy groups.

“These allegations speak to a culture of toxic complicity at CBS, where the safety of women was continuously ignored to protect the careers of powerful men and the corporation,” said a representative of Time’s Up, a campaign against workplace sexual misconduct, in a statement on Sunday following the New Yorker’s second story on Moonves.

“CBS, as you sit in a room debating next steps to rectify the damage done, remember that the world is watching. We will accept nothing less than full transparency of the investigation’s findings, a commitment to real change across all levels of CBS management and no reward for Les Moonves,” Time’s Up said.

Reporting by Kenneth Li; Editing by Lisa Shumaker