Disney hires PepsiCo veteran Hugh Johnston as CFO

Hugh Johnston, PepsiCo

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Disney said Monday that Hugh Johnston, the longtime chief financial officer of PepsiCo, will join the company as its new CFO, as the entertainment giant contends with a sagging share price and streaming losses.

Johnston has spent the last 34 years with PepsiCo, holding various positions at the food and beverage giant before becoming CFO in 2010.

Johnston, who starts at Disney on Dec. 4, will report directly to CEO Bob Iger.

“Disney is such a storied company, 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,” Johnston said in a statement. “Very few companies have withstood the test of time that Disney has, making the company as rare as it is special.”

Disney’s previous CFO, Christine McCarthy, stepped down earlier this year. Her resignation came amid the entertainment company’s massive restructuring during Iger’s second tenure as CEO, which began about a year ago. The company cut 7,000 jobs during several rounds of layoffs this year.

Disney is contemplating several transformative transactions, including potentially selling ABC and looking for strategic partners for ESPN, as the traditional pay-TV business loses millions of customers each year. The company has already hired former Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer to advise on reshaping the businesses.

The entertainment giant is under new pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz as it struggles with losses in its streaming business and a stock that has fallen about 2% this year. Peltz’s firm, Trian Fund Management, has increased its stake in Disney to about 30 million shares. CNBC previously reported that the firm plans to push for multiple seats on the board, including one for Peltz himself.

Disney is also searching for a successor to Iger as CEO after he returned to the role in November. Disney would like to name an heir apparent to Iger by early 2025, CNBC reported earlier this year.

Disney is scheduled to report quarterly earnings after the closing bell Wednesday.

Disclosure: Hugh Johnston is a member of CNBC’s CFO Council.

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