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CBS is losing Chief Financial Officer Fred Reynolds

The executive is stepping down next month and retiring in August. He will be succeeded by Joe Ianniello, who had been deputy CFO.

June 23, 2009|Meg James

CBS is losing its top bean counter.

Fred Reynolds, the longtime chief financial officer of CBS Corp., is stepping down next month and retiring in August. He will be succeeded by Joe Ianniello, who has been deputy chief financial officer.

Reynolds, 58, has been CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves' Wall Street wingman for nearly a decade. He almost left the company in 2005, but Moonves, who commands extreme loyalty from his underlings, lured him back.

The departure of Reynolds comes at a tough time for CBS. Although the network is doing well in the ratings, the company, like many media conglomerates, has been battered by the economy and a soft advertising market. Standard & Poor's downgraded CBS' credit this year, and Wall Street has been monitoring the company's balance sheet. Last month, CBS refinanced $1 billion of its debt at higher interest rates to give the company a financial cushion and more breathing room.

Reynolds had been considered an all-star by Wall Street.

"Reynolds has an excellent reputation and is known for his conservatism, his focus on the balance sheet and his desire for CBS to maintain an investment-grade rating," Wachovia senior analyst Marci Ryvicker said in a research note Monday. "We believe Mr. Reynolds' departure is a slight negative for the stock."

The only noticeable blot on Reynolds' record was CBS' decision last year to spend $1.8 billion in cash to buy Internet company CNet Networks Inc.

Moonves had hoped the acquisition would make CBS a significant digital player. Instead, the deal depleted its cash reserves at a particularly bad time, just as the recession was delivering a blow to CBS' advertising-reliant businesses.

Reynolds had a compensation package valued at $8.6 million in 2008, according to regulatory filings. He will leave the company Aug. 15, when his contract expires.

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meg.james@latimes.com

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