Disney Names Staggs COO

The Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that it has named Thomas Staggs as chief operating officer, a move that could put the long-time executive a step closer to the CEO spot expected to open once Disney chief Bob Iger retires in 2018.

Staggs has long been a top candidate to succeed Iger. A 25-year Disney veteran, he served as chief financial officer of the company from 1998 to 2010 when he was moved to head up its Parks & Resorts division, which many believed was an attempt to give him more operational experience.He switched jobs with then Parks & Resorts chairman Jay Rasulo, who was named CFO at the time. Rasulo remains CFO.

Iger recently signed a new employment deal that will keep him chairman and CEO through 2018.

Staggs will assume the COO role immediately and will continue to head Parks & Resorts until a successor is found.

Disney’s senior management team, including all business segment leaders, will report jointly to Iger and Staggs, with the exception of the CFO, General Counsel, Chief Communications Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer, who will continue to report directly to Iger.

“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. 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,” Iger said in a statement.

Staggs joined Disney in 1990 as Manager of Strategic Planning and was named CFO in 1998. Before joining Disney, he worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley & Co.

As CFO for twelve years, he spearheaded the realignment of Disney’s performance goals toward the combination of profit growth and strong long-term capital returns and free cash flow.  He has been praised by Wall Street for his financial and communications skills, and was consistently voted the entertainment industry’s No. 1 CFO by Institutional Investor magazine.

“It’s a privilege to step into this role, and I am humbled and honored by the opportunity. I look 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,” Staggs said in a statement.