Disney Appoints Staggs to Iger Successor

DisneyCOO_StaggsThe Walt Disney Company has promoted 25-year company veteran Thomas Staggs to chief operating officer, in a move widely seen as positioning the executive to succeed current CEO Bob Iger.

When Iger was named to lead the company in 2011, it was planned that he would only hold the chief executive position through March 31 of this year, after which he would continue as executive chairman for an additional 15 months, through June 30, 2016. Whether that timeline remains in effect is unclear.

Staggs is currently chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and will continue to lead that division until a successor is named.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the appointment ends a five-year succession battle between Staggs and current chief financial officer Jay Rasulo. Rasulo did not renew his contract with Disney when it expired at the end of January, and it is widely believed that he will leave the company.

“Tom is an incredibly experienced, talented and versatile executive who has led Parks and Resorts during a time of unprecedented growth and expansion, including the construction of Shanghai Disney Resort,” says Iger. “His proven ability to lead a business as well as his successful tenure as Disney’s former CFO make him an ideal chief operating officer, expanding his portfolio into all the company’s businesses.”

Disney Consumer Products is the world’s largest licensor, encompassing the Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, ABC Television and ESPN brands in addition to core Disney properties.

Disney’s senior management team, including all business segment leaders, will report jointly to Staggs and chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger, with the exception of the chief financial officer, general counsel, chief communications officer and chief human resources officer, who will continue to report directly to Iger.

Staggs has led the global Parks and Resorts team since 2010. In addition to overseeing the development of Shanghai Disney Resort and a new Avatar-themed land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, during Staggs’ tenure, Disney has launched two new cruise ships; opened Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, in Hawai‘i; added three new lands at Hong Kong Disneyland; doubled the size of Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom; and completed a multi-year expansion of the Disneyland Resort with the addition of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure Park.

Prior to that, Staggs served as senior executive vice president and chief financial officer of The Walt Disney Company, playing a critical role in the acquisitions of Capital Cities/ABC, Pixar Animation Studios and Marvel Entertainment.

Staggs joined Disney in 1990 as manager of strategic planning and held a series of positions of increased responsibility, leading to his appointment as chief financial officer in 1998. Before joining Disney, he worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley & Co.

“It’s a privilege to step into this role, and I am humbled and honored by the opportunity. Ilook forward to working more closely with Bob and the talented senior management team across the company to continue to build Disney’s future through unparalleled creativity, innovative technology and global expansion,” says Staggs.