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Disney finance chief Christine McCarthy to step down as Iger reshapes the company

Christine McCarthy, Disney’s chief financial officer, will step down from that role, the entertainment giant said Thursday.

She will take a family medical leave of absence, and during that time, she will continue as a strategic advisor to Disney, the company said. McCarthy will also help find a long-term successor, Disney added. Veteran Disney executive Kevin Lansberry, who currently works as finance chief for Disney’s parks business, will become the company’s interim CFO effective July 1.

“I am immensely grateful for the opportunity Bob provided me to serve as CFO of this iconic company and am proud of the work my talented team has done to position Disney to capitalize on the business possibilities that lie ahead,” McCarthy said in the news release announcing her departure.

McCarthy, who started with Disney in 2000 and became CFO in 2015, leaves as Disney undergoes a broad restructuring during Bob Iger’s second tenure as CEO. The company has targeted 7,000 job cuts during several rounds of layoffs this year.

Disney has also contended with a tougher ad market for media companies and struggled to set itself apart in a crowded streaming space. In its fiscal second quarter, Disney reported operating losses of $659 million for its direct-to-consumer segment.

During McCarthy’s tenure, Disney’s streaming spending skyrocketed, and free cash flow fell. For a while, that was fine. Disney’s stock got a bump as the number of Disney+ subscribers soared. But when the balloon popped on streaming valuations in 2022, she needed to change strategies. That is still a work in progress.

McCarthy also emerged as a pivotal figure during last year’s upheaval at Disney, which saw Iger return to replace his successor as CEO, Bob Chapek. During Chapek’s tenure, she moved toward his inner circle, only to reportedly turn on him, which proved to be the final straw for the former chief executive.

But Iger has loyalists at that company, and McCarthy’s move toward Chapek showed she wasn’t in that camp. So, she never had the same status internally as being trusted by Iger as others, according to people familiar with the matter.

Iger struck a positive tone about McCarthy in Thursday’s announcement, however.

“Among her many contributions to the company, one of the things I admire most about Christine is the generous mentorship she has provided to so many of her colleagues over the years, including countless women,” Iger said in the news release. “She has opened doors, created opportunities, and served as a role model for women at every level of business — not just at Disney, but around the world.” CNBC

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