Joseph Ianniello, CBS’ president and acting CEO, is in line to earn at least $23 million this year per the terms of the contract extension he signed earlier this week.
Ianniello agreed to continue as acting CEO for another six months, through year’s end, as CBS’ board of directors considers the company’s long-term options. CBS has called off its search for a permanent CEO, a signal that it is moving closer to initiating merger discussions with Viacom. Ianniello had been a candidate for the permanent CEO job.
Under the contract extension, Ianniello’s salary rises to $3 million, from $2.5 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday. He will receive a $5 million cash signing bonus, and the extension guarantees him another $15 million bonus.
Moreover, CBS added another $10 million to the severance fee that Ianniello will be due if he leaves the company but is not fired for cause. Under the employment contract Ianniello signed in July 2017, he was in line to receive a huge severance of $45 million or more — a fee calculated as three times his average salary and bonus for the previous three years — if he was not named CEO of the company after the departure of his longtime boss, Leslie Moonves.
Moonves was fired as CBS chairman-CEO last September as sexual misconduct allegations surfaced. Ianniello at the time agreed to serve as acting CEO through the end of June. As the CEO search sputtered, CBS’ board moved to keep Ianniello place through year’s end.
Ianniello’s salary and target bonus were already scheduled to rise to the new levels in July under the terms of the 2017 contract.
In 2018, Ianniello took in $27.3 million, which included more than $12 million in stock options and awards.