Just before this week’s latest quarterly financial results are released, the Walt Disney Company has announced that they’ve named Hugh F. Johnston as the new senior executive vice president and chief financial officer. He will take over the role on December 4th 2023.
Hugh is currently the Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of PepsiCo, and he has held numerous leadership positions during a highly successful 34-year career with the multinational food and beverage giant. He is also a member of the board and chair of the audit committee of Microsoft Corp., and as a member of the board and chair of the audit committee of HCA Healthcare. He is also a director for the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a leading global economic think tank. Johnston holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.
As Disney’s Chief Financial Officer, Johnston will report directly to Bob Iger and will lead the company’s worldwide finance organization, which includes corporate real estate, corporate strategy and business development, enterprise controllership, enterprise technology, financial planning and analysis, global product and labour standards, global security, investor relations, risk management, tax, and treasury.
Earlier this year, the former CFO, Christine McCarthy, left her role after many years, after raising issues to the board about Bob Chapek’s creative accountancy plans to move some of the cost of creating Disney+ Originals like “The Mysterious Benedict Society” and “Doogie Kamealoha MD” to the Disney Channel. However, within months of Bob Iger’s return, she left the role to look after her husband, with Kevin Lansberry stepping in until a permanent replacement could be found.
Bob Iger said in a statement:
“Hugh’s well-earned reputation as one of the best CFOs in America and his wealth of leadership experience in both financial and operational roles overseeing a diverse portfolio of top global brands make him a perfect addition to Disney’s senior leadership team. His expertise will serve Disney and its shareholders well as we continue the transformative work we are doing to drive growth and value creation.
I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to Kevin Lansberry, who stepped into the CFO role on an interim basis earlier this year. Kevin has provided steady leadership and invaluable counsel to our executive management team, and he will continue to be one of our company’s most important financial leaders as he returns to his role as CFO of our Disney Experiences segment.”
Hugh F. Johnston also said in a statement:
“Disney is such a storied company, with the most beloved brands in the world and a strong financial foundation to support the company of the future that Bob and his team are building. Very few companies have withstood the test of time that Disney has, making the company as rare as it is special. I share Bob’s enthusiasm for Disney’s future, and I am incredibly excited to join this management team in this moment of opportunity and possibility.”
With Disney under lots of financial stress from the fallout of purchasing 20th Century Fox and the pending purchase of the remainder of Comcast’s stake in Hulu, it is likely Hugh F. Johnston is going to have a difficult job ahead, trying to get Disney’s finances under control. With Disney set to make Disney+ profitable by the end of 2024, his hiring will no doubt have an impact on what the service will ultimately become.
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