Magazine article Screen International

Tom Staggs Shocker Sparks Disney Succession Guessing Game

Magazine article Screen International

Tom Staggs Shocker Sparks Disney Succession Guessing Game

Article excerpt

The news was announced in a press release by Disney that caused the company's shares to drop 1.7% after trading. Staggs will step down on May 6 and remain as special advisor to Iger through this fiscal year. No reason was given for the departure.

The 55-year-old has been at Disney for 26 years and ran the resorts unit and served as Disney CFO before climbing to COO in February 2015.

He had been viewed as the likely successor to Iger, 65, whose contract runs through June 2018. However there has been speculation that the COO may have decided to move on after learning that the board was eager to broaden its search for a successor.

This means that, in a rare move, an Iger replacement would most likely come from outside Disney given the relative lack of experience among higher ranking in-house executives of the corporation's varied businesses, a necessary track record that instils confidence in shareholders.

It is understood there were reservations about the all-round profile of Staggs, a finance specialist said to lack broader creative experience in, for example, the film or TV units.

His departure may also have been prompted by the realisation that the board might try to entice Iger to extend his reign.

Despite declining ESPN subscriptions, the Iger era has seen the acquisition of Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, and Pixar. Ironically Staggs is understood to have played a key role in another potential bright spot - the upcoming June launch of Shanghai Disney Resort in China. …

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