Les Moonves, who led CBS Corp. to the pinnacle of the TV industry with shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “N.C.I.S.,” will step down from the business he’s run for more than 20 years after being accused of sexual harassment and running afoul of his biggest investor.

Moonves, 68, will relinquish the titles of chairman and chief executive officer of CBS immediately, CBS said in a statement on Sunday. Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will replace him as chief executive officer on an interim basis while the company searches for a permanent leader. CBS will set aside a $120 million payout for Moonves -- unless the ongoing investigation into his alleged behavior shows he could have been fired for cause.

The media mogul’s exit was accelerated by explosive allegations in the New Yorker, which reported that he sexually harassed a dozen women and tried to harm their careers. The board also ended a separate legal fight with majority shareholder National Amusements Inc. on Sunday after trying to dilute its 80 percent voting stake in a fight for control of the company.

“Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am,” Moonves said in a statement Sunday announcing his departure. “I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company.”

Investors had long respected Moonves. He was regarded as one of the most capable programming executives in television, and one of the highest-paid as well. But the New Yorker stories -- including a new set of accusations on Sunday -- vaulted him squarely into the #MeToo movement. And the returns on CBS shares have lagged behind those of a wider media-stock index, especially as mergers swept through the industry.

CBS shares rose 1.2 percent to $56.75 in early trading on Monday. They had declined 5 percent so far this year through Sept. 7.

As part of his split, Moonves and CBS will donate $20 million to one or more groups that support “the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace,” the company said.

CBS shares rose in recent days as the prospect of Moonves’s exit -- and the settlement of the broadcaster’s dispute with the Redstone family -- suggested the company would enter a period of calm. National Amusements, controlled by Shari Redstone and her ailing father Sumner, had proposed that CBS combine with Viacom Inc.. With the investor agreeing not to pursue that for years, CBS could seek other transactions -- or potentially be acquired.

With merger speculation swirling around the media industry, CBS’s shake-up could catch the attention of potential suitors. The idea of CBS merging with Viacom, meanwhile, was less attractive to investors.

“The clear positive is that the current uncertainty is lifted and that there will be no immediate merger between Viacom and CBS,’’ analyst Michael Nathanson said in a note before Moonves stepped down.

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