The Walt Disney Company has named Hugh Johnston as its Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Johnston is currently the vice chairman and CFO of food and beverage giant PepsiCo. He succeeds Christine McCarthy, who stepped down earlier this year. He starts December 4 and will relocate from New York to California. Kevin Lansberry had been serving as interim CFO after McCarthy’s departure and will return to his previous role as CFO of Disney’s parks, products and experiences division.
Johnston first joined PepsiCo in 1987 and has served in various roles since, including executive VP of operations, president of PepsiCo’s North American division, and senior VP of transformation. Johnston joins Disney at a pivotal moment for the company, as it seeks to undergo a radical transformation under Iger.
Among other things, Disney is now committed to buying the remaining stake of Hulu from Comcast. They are also facing a possible proxy battle with activist investor Nelson Peltz. PepsiCo had its own run-in with Peltz in 2014 and 2015. Disney is set to report earnings this week, some strategic update is expected.
As Disney’s Chief Financial Officer, Johnston will report directly to 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 labor standards, global security, investor relations, risk management, tax, and treasury.
“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,” said Iger in a statement. “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,” 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.”
“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.”
According to a copy of Johnston’s contract, he will receive a base salary of $2 million, a $4 million annual target bonus, an $11.5 million annual LTIP grant, a one-time long-term stock award of $14 million, and a $3 million signing bonus.
Johnston currently serves as 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.