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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CBS Finance Chief To Retire
Story from the Wall Street Journal

Fred Reynolds, CBS Corp.'s longtime chief financial officer, is retiring from his post next month, and will be succeeded by his deputy, Joseph Ianniello.

Mr. Ianniello, 41 years old, rises to CBS's top financial post as the media company is reeling from a steep downturn in ad revenue, especially at its local businesses, such as TV stations and billboards.

Mr. Reynolds, 58, recently orchestrated bond issues that have helped ease investors' concerns about some $1.2 billion debt coming due through the end of 2010. But earlier this month, Standard & Poor's downgraded CBS's debt to one notch above junk status.

"Some investors are worried about what their balance sheet will look like going forward," said Marci Ryvicker, a media analyst at Wachovia Capital Markets.

Before becoming deputy finance chief in December, Mr. Ianniello served as CBS's chief development officer and treasurer, making him the point man for deals including last year's $1.8 billion acquisition of CNET networks. But Mr. Ianniello said in an interview Monday he will focus on cutting costs. "I don't see any M&A on the horizon," he said.

Mr. Reynolds steps down after a 15-year run at CBS. He was chief financial officer at Westinghouse Electric Corp. when the company bought CBS in 1995. He stayed on in iterations of that role as the company merged with Viacom Inc. in 2000 and later split again.

Mr. Reynolds said Monday that his reasons for retiring were "99% personal," adding that he had been grooming Mr. Ianniello for the job since 2006, after the company completed its split with Viacom. Mr. Ianniello, whom Mr. Reynolds hired in 1997, will assume the post of finance chief on July 20, although both men plan to participate in a subsequent conference call to report CBS's second-quarter earnings. Mr. Reynolds plans to retire from CBS in August.

Mr. Reynolds said he had almost retired in 2001, eager to move into private equity. But CBS persuaded him to stay on by also putting him in charge of its string of TV stations. This time, Mr. Reynolds said, he isn't interested in taking other jobs, apart from sitting on corporate boards.