Disney Names Former PepsiCo Exec Hugh Johnson as New CFO

Hugh Johnson Disney
Hugh Johnson (Image credit: The Walt Disney Co.)

The Walt Disney Co. named Hugh Johnson as senior executive VP and CFO, effective December 4.

Johnson is vice chairman and CFO of PepsiCo, where he’s worked for 34 years.

He succeeds Christine McCarthy, a 23-year Disney veteran who stepped down in June after playing a role in convincing Disney’s board to remove CEO Bob Chapek and bring back former CEO Bob Iger to lead the company.

Johnson becomes a key adviser to Iger as he looks to right the Disney ship, which is dealing with big streaming losses, declining revenue and profits at its traditional media networks and facing a decision about what to do with its ESPN sports business. Disney also recently agreed to pay more than $8 billion for Comcast’s stake in Hulu and is fending off a potential proxy fight from activist investors.

“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,” Iger said. “His expertise will serve Disney and its shareholders well as we continue the transformative work we are doing to drive growth and value creation.”

In the interim, Kevin Lansberry has been acting CFO. 

“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,” Iger said. “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.”

Johnson joined PepsiCo in 1987. He left the company to serve as VP, retail, at Merck before returning in 2002.

“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,” Johnston said. “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.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.