Christine M. McCarthy, who in her eight years as Disney’s chief financial officer helped stabilize the company during the pandemic when most of Disney was closed, and replaced Bob Chapek as chief executive last year Was instrumental in the removal, she will step down on July 1, she said on Thursday.
Ms McCarthy, 67, said she would take a “family medical leave of absence”. Disney gave no further details, although it is well known within the company’s senior ranks that her husband has a serious illness. Ms McCarthy, who has battled cancer twice during her Disney career, has a contract that runs until next June.
She will serve as a strategic advisor until then and help “identify and onboard a long-term successor,” Disney said. Kevin Lansberry, 59, will be the company’s interim finance chief. He has served as Chief Financial Officer for Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Products since 2017. “He has my full confidence,” Disney CEO Robert A. Iger said in a statement.
Mr. Iger called Ms. McCarthy “one of the most admired financial executives in America” and said her impact on Disney “cannot be overstated.”
In February 2020, as the pandemic was beginning to shut down the world economy, Mr. Iger stepped down as chief executive of Disney and handed the job to Mr. Chapek, the company’s former theme parks chairman. Together, Mr. Chapek and Ms. McCarthy raced Disney to be the first firm in financial position by securing $20 billion in the bond markets.
“Christine was able to raise the right kind of debt instruments to keep us afloat,” Disney’s former streaming chief Kevin Mayer told a reporter. Smith College Alumni Magazine Last year.
However, by last fall, relations between Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Chapek had deteriorated. She had become increasingly concerned about losses in the company’s streaming division and privately questioned whether Disney+ could meet the aggressive subscriber targets Mr. Chapek was publicly touting.
Friction broke out at a Disney board meeting – Ms. McCarthy clearly told the board what she thought, angering a surprised Mr. Chapek – and never quite recovered; The board fired him in late November. (In May, both Mr. Chapek and Ms. McCarthy were named in a shareholder lawsuit accusing the company of misleading investors about Disney+ development.)
Mr. Iger agreed to come out of retirement to retake the reins of Disney. Ms McCarthy, who had remained close to him, was the one who made the first call to him to see if he was interested.
Ms. McCarthy joined Disney in 2000 as Treasurer. He previously spent two decades in the banking industry.