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CBS extends Leslie Moonves’ CEO contract to 2021

CBS Corp. on Monday extended to June 2021 the employment agreement of its chief executive, Leslie Moonves, pictured here last week in New York. (Jeffrey R. Staab / CBS)

CBS Corp. has extended its employment agreement with its chief executive, Leslie Moonves, for an additional two years — pushing the boss’ retirement date to June 30, 2021.

The move, announced Monday, marks the latest extension for Moonves, who joined CBS in 1995 as entertainment president. He transformed the television network from a laggard to a leader and during the last decade has steered the company through much upheaval in the television industry.

He will be 71 in 2021 when the latest extension expires. The newly revised agreement keeps in place a provision to allow Moonves, after he steps down as CEO, to become a senior advisor to CBS for an additional five years. He also will have an option to form a production company financed by CBS.

Last year, Moonves received a compensation package valued at nearly $70 million. His 2016 compensation was boosted by a $32-million cash bonus, up 68% from his bonus the previous year. CBS attributed the larger bonus to Moonves’ leadership successes, including keeping CBS the most-watched TV network in America and helping to negotiate new distribution deals.

CBS said Monday that his base salary of $3.5 million will remain at its current level and that he would continue to be eligible for an annual bonuses as well as generous stock and option awards, some of which are tied to the company’s stock performance.

Moonves became president and CEO of CBS Corp. in 2006 when the company separated from Viacom Inc. to become a stand-alone, publicly traded entity. In February 2016, Moonves received the additional title of chairman, replacing controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone, who has been in poor health. The Redstone family controls nearly 80% of the voting shares of CBS Corp.

Moonves was considered to be the choice to run a combined CBS and Viacom, but the Viacom board ended merger talks last fall, leaving the two companies as separate stand-alone entities.