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Announcement:

Moody's says that The Walt Disney Company's naming of new CEO removes succession uncertainty and is credit positive

26 Feb 2020

New York, February 26, 2020 -- Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) says that The Walt Disney Company's (Disney) (A2 Stable outlook) naming of a new CEO removes succession uncertainty and is credit positive as risk of disruption to strategic plans and financial policy is largely eliminated. Disney's Board of Directors announced on February 25, 2020 that Bob Chapek has been named Chief Executive Officer effective immediately. Robert A. Iger assumes the role of Executive Chairman and will direct the Company's creative endeavors, while leading the Board and providing a smooth transition with the full benefit of his experience, leadership and guidance through the end of his contract on Dec. 31, 2021.

Mr. Chapek, a long tenured Disney insider has been with the company for 27 years. Most recently he served as Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Prior to that, Mr. Chapek had leadership roles at Consumer Products and the Studio.

"Concern over succession has been an overhang on Disney for some time, as past leading internal candidates were eliminated, and no outside candidates appeared" stated Neil Begley, a Moody's senior vice president. The surprising announcement comes after Mr. Iger led Disney through the latest significant acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox and the very successful strategic launch of Disney+ in 2019. In our view, Mr. Iger leaves the CEO role with an industry leading legacy of intellectual property acquisitions and expansion of the brands to most corners of the world. Under his leadership, the company acquired Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm which include some of the world's most iconic franchises to add to those created under the Disney brand. "We view the split of the Chairman and CEO role as a positive and retaining Mr. Iger as the Executive Chairman is a win win, as he will continue to share his leadership experience and focus on the significant creative aspects of the company", stated Begley. As an insider with a significant track record under Mr. Iger, Mr. Chapek oversaw an array of Disney's businesses, and worked closely with Mr. Iger in contributing to the development of the strategies that have brought great and unparalleled industry success. We believe that his tenure gives him the advantages of significant depth and understanding of the company's businesses and culture.

Mr. Chapek will directly oversee all of the Company's business segments and corporate functions. He will report to the Executive Chairman, Mr. Iger, and the Board of Directors. The company stated that he will be appointed to the Board at a later date. We anticipate that as CEO, Mr. Chapek will continue Mr. Iger's commitment to creative excellence, technological innovation and international expansion. We also anticipate no changes in financial policy and a commitment to a strong balance sheet, deleveraging following the 21st Century Fox transaction and to sustaining the company's A2 long-term debt ratings and P-1 short-term rating.

During Mr. Chapek's tenure at the Parks segment, he oversaw the expansion and opening of Disney's first theme park and resort in mainland China, Shanghai Disney Resort; the expansion of numerous offerings across Disney's six resort destinations in the U.S., Europe and Asia, including the creation of the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World and the addition of Marvel-inspired attractions; and the expansion of Disney Cruise Line with the announced construction of three new ships. From 2011 to 2015, Mr. Chapek was President of the former Disney Consumer Products segment, where he drove the technology-led transformation of the Company's consumer products, retail and publishing operations. Prior to that, he served as President of Distribution for The Walt Disney Studios and was responsible for overseeing the Studios' overall content distribution strategy across multiple platforms including theatrical exhibition, home entertainment, pay TV, digital entertainment and new media. He also served as President of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, where he spearheaded the successful "vault strategy" for the Company's iconic films and transformed the primary format of home entertainment from DVD to Blu-ray.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

This publication does not announce a credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the most updated credit rating action information and rating history.

Neil Begley
Senior Vice President
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Lenny J. Ajzenman
Associate Managing Director
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

No Related Data.
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