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How CBS Doubles Down on Its CFO


Is it the best use of funds to pay two people for the same job?

Back in June, CBS (CBS) announced that its CFO, Fred Reynolds, planned to retire in mid-August. That same day, the company announced that Joseph Ianniello would be taking over as CFO on July 20.

Now Ianniello was no novice. He had been with CBS or Viacom (VIA) for the past 12 years and had been deputy CFO since November 2008. Indeed, in the press release that announced Ianniello's promotion, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said this: "He's been involved in every major financial decision of this company, from the time that the new CBS Corporation was formed to the present day, and he's spent the last year working alongside Fred Reynolds, preparing for this transition. It's a luxury to have someone who's played at his level ready to step into this vitally important position."

So imagine my surprise when I came across this consulting agreement for Reynolds that was attached to the 10-Q that CBS filed late yesterday. In a nutshell, Reynolds received $100,000 a month, each month, for consulting between his retirement on August 15 through November 18. After that, the fee drops to $60,000 a month through August 2010. While the fees work out to substantially less than Reynolds was making when he was CFO -- his base salary was $1.75 million according to the proxy -- there's no requirement in the consulting agreement for Reynolds to work a specific number of hours.

There was also an interesting clause in Reynolds' contract in terms of travel expenses. While it's pretty standard to cover a consultant's travel expenses, Reynolds' deal requires CBS to pay for travel expenses incurred by "members of his family" too, though it's not clear from the contract how many people that involves or what services they'll be providing to CBS.

Last month, Reynolds, 59, was one of several high-powered media executives named to the board of AOL, which Time Warner (TWX) is hoping to spin-off sooner, rather than later.

While CBS hasn't had the same level of bloodletting in terms of jobs that many other major media companies have had -- just this week, Time Warner announced a $100 million charge and plans to lay-off 400 to 500 people -- there's still got to be some folks wondering if that $100,00o, or even $60,000 a month (plus travel expenses for the Reynolds clan) can't be better used somewhere else.

Editor's Note: This article was written by Michelle Leder, who combs through SEC filings for nuggets of interesting details for her blog,

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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