Walt Disney named PepsiCo. veteran Hugh Johnston as its chief financial officer, boosting top boss Bob Iger’s hands as he seeks to turn around the media behemoth, which is struggling with a drop in its cable business and investor pressure.

Disney names Hugh Johnston as CFO: All about the PepsiCo veteran taking the top financial role

The Walt Disney Company has found its next Chief Financial Officer. Hugh Johnston has been named as the company’s senior executive VP and CFO, the top financial position and a key deputy to CEO Bob Iger.

Johnston, who is currently PepsiCo‘s vice chairman and CFO, effectively follows Christine McCarthy, who stepped down earlier this year. He will relocate from New York to California on December 4th.

Who is Hugh Johnston

Johnston joined PepsiCo in 1987 and has held a number of positions since then, including executive vice president of operations, president of PepsiCo’s North American business, and senior vice president of transformation.

He is said to have helped the company that made Doritos make more money, from $58 billion in 2010 to about $86 billion last year. For more than a decade, Johnston was CFO of the food and drink giant PepsiCo.

Jamie Caulfield, who is CFO of PepsiCo’s North America business, will take over for Johnston. In June, Disney announced that Christine McCarthy, who used to be CFO, had quit her job.

Johnston said that Disney is such a storied company and 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. He further said, “Very few companies have stood the test of time as well as Disney, making the company as unique as it is special. I share Bob’s enthusiasm for Disney’s future, and I am thrilled to be joining this executive team at such an exciting time of opportunity and possibility.”

Johnston joins Disney at a critical juncture in its history, as the business strives to undertake a fundamental makeover under Iger. Among other things, the business is now committed to acquiring Comcast’s remaining interest in Hulu and is facing a likely proxy war with activist investor Nelson Peltz (PepsiCo, incidentally, had its own run-in with Peltz in 2014 and 2015). Iger is considering what to do with Disney’s linear TV operations, which include ABC, ESPN, and the Disney cable networks, after slashing thousands of jobs and driving Disney’s streaming business to profitability. Some form of strategy update is likely with the company ready to announce earnings this week.

Johnston’s contract says that he will get a $2 million base pay, a $4 million annual target bonus, a $11.5 million annual LTIP grant, a $14 million long-term stock award all at once, and a $3 million signing bonus.

With his experience as a C-level boss and operator at a consumer-focused company bigger than Disney, Johnston is also likely to make people wonder if he could be in the running to replace Iger.


Q1: How old is Hugh Johnston?
62 years old.

Q2: Who is the current CFO of Disney?
Christine M. McCarthy

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