Food & Beverages

Just In: Disney Appoints PepsiCo Veteran Hugh Johnston as CFO

“Johnston's appointment is a solid positive for Disney, which needs the financial help.”

SMEBRNovember 7, 17:41
Disney appoints Hugh Johnston Pepsico veteran as CFO

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Walt Disney Company has appointed Hugh Johnston, former Vice Chairman and CFO of PepsiCo, as its new Chief Financial Officer. Johnston brings over three decades of financial leadership experience to Disney as the media giant is currently undergoing a restructuring process to make its streaming business profitable and find a path forward for its traditional TV unit, which may involve asset sales and partnerships for its sports network ESPN.

By onboarding Hugh Johnston, 62, as Disney’s CFO, Disney gains an executive with extensive experience at the top level. Johnston is credited with significantly increasing PepsiCo's revenue from $58 billion in 2010 to approximately $86 billion last year. He also provided guidance to PepsiCo during a battle with activist investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management.

The appointment of Mr. Johnston is viewed positively by investors and industry experts. Disney's Chief Financial Officer role had been vacant since June 2022 when Christine McCarthy departed the company. Bringing in an executive of Mr. Johnston's caliber provides Disney with proven financial leadership as it navigates business transformation and economic uncertainties.

Mr. Johnston also brings valuable public company board experience from his roles at Microsoft and HCA Healthcare. This background will enable him to address investor concerns, which have contributed to Disney shares underperforming the market for the past two years.

Michael Ashley Schulman, chief investment officer at Running Point Capital Advisor said, "Johnston's appointment is a solid positive for Disney, which needs the financial help.”

Disney hiring Johnston now is a smart move with Trian Fund Management planning to challenge Disney's board. Trian wants Disney to deal with concerns about where the company is headed.

Johnston will start as CFO on December 4th. His long financial background at huge global companies like PepsiCo makes him a great fit for Disney's changes. Disney hopes Johnston can use his experience to help turn them around and set them up for long-term success.