More Disney shakeup as CFO, parks chief swap jobs

on November 12 2009 5:16 PM

Walt Disney Co stepped up an overhaul of its management by announcing that two top executives, its finance chief and the head of its parks division, will swap jobs at the end of this year.

Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs has served in his current job for more than a decade, presiding over acquisitions of Capital Cities/ABC, Pixar and the pending purchase of Marvel Entertainment. Jay Rasulo assumed the role of parks chairman in 2000.

Thursday's announcement follows a restructuring of Disney's film studio's marketing, distribution, and operations divisions on Wednesday and the departure on Monday of Mark Zoradi, president of Disney's motion pictures group.

Those moves came on the heels of the abrupt departures of former Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook in September, which shocked both Hollywood and Wall Street, and of Miramax Films President Daniel Battsek last month.

Analysts said Thursday's job swap likely reflected Disney's desire to deepen the experience of two highly regarded executives, particularly Staggs.

Disney may also be aiming to bolster its parks operations with a fresh perspective as it moves forward in the tough economic environment and prepares for a new theme park in Shanghai. The division encompasses Disney's theme parks, resorts, cruise lines, and vacation and time share operations.

There are two reasons they could be doing this, said analyst David Bank of RBC Capital Markets. The parks business is really challenging right now and they believe Staggs could help it, or they want Staggs to have more operational experience on the road to something bigger.

Rasulo, meanwhile, as the parks division boss oversaw expansions of Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim and Hong Kong Disneyland, and led negotiations with the Chinese government for the new Shanghai theme park.

Both will continue to report to Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger.

Shares of Disney were down 1 percent at $28.99 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Additional reporting by Gina Keating; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Gary Hill)

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