Disney’s Insider

Walt Disney Co. hires a CFO from within.

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The Walt Disney Co. looked no further than the Magic Kingdom for its new CFO. The entertainment giant named former SVP of strategic planning Thomas O. Staggs to the post. He succeeds Richard Nanula, who left to become president and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (see “Grapevine,” June). Staggs, who worked on acquisitions, technology, and professional sports at Disney, is the company’s third CFO since 1995. His selection ended speculation that Disney might look outside for a big name. Also, Peter E. Murphy was appointed EVP and chief strategic officer.

Scott Rosen is a good fit for J. Crew Group Inc. He was named SVP and CFO of the New York apparel company. Rosen, the former CFO of J. Crew’s mail-order and Clifford & Wills divisions, replaces Michael P. McHugh, who left to become CFO of Authentic Fitness Corp., in Los Angeles.

The Spice Guys

The well-seasoned Francis A. Contino was named CFO of McCormick & Co., a Sparks, Md.-based spice maker. He succeeds Robert G. Davey, who was promoted to president of McCormick’s global industrial group.

Brian D. Lane is a big cheese at Blimpie International Inc. He was named CFO of the New York sandwich-shop franchiser and owner. Lane, former VP, finance and administration, at Checkmate Electronics Inc., in Roswell, Ga., succeeds Joanne F. Guarnieri, who resigned in March.

In other fast-food news, Lawrence E. White was named CFO of Boston Chicken Inc. He succeeds Mark W. Stephens, who resigned amid a broad management shake-up at the troubled Golden, Colo.-based restaurant chain. White was formerly CFO of El Chico Restaurants Inc., in Dallas.

End of the Line

The train stops here for L. White Matthews. He is stepping down from the CFO position at Union Pacific Corp., the nation’s largest railroad, after 21 years, 10 as its finance chief. Matthews says he is leaving to “focus on other pursuits.” The railroad has been plagued by continuing service problems. It named VP and treasurer Gary M. Stuart to succeed Matthews.

The Home Depot Inc. is doing some remodeling. The Atlanta-based home-improvement retailer named Dennis J. Carey to the CFO post. Carey succeeds Marshall Day, who will remain as SVP, finance and accounting. Home Depot brought in Carey, who served at General Electric Co. and AT&T Corp., for his international experience as the retailer begins to expand overseas.

Bo Knows Finance

Edge Technologies Inc. will find out what William “Bo” Thomas is made of. The Ames, Iowa, high-tech materials manufacturer named him EVP and CFO. It is a new position at Edge. Before joining the company, Thomas was CFO of Stanley Aviation Corp., in Aurora, Colo.

Safeway Inc. can cross CFO off its shopping list. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based supermarket chain named David G. Weed to the post. The former VP and general manager of the northern California division succeeds Julian C. Day, who left to pursue another position. Daniel S. Van Riper secured the CFO job at Sealed Air Corp. He was also named SVP at the Saddle Brook, N.J., protective- packaging company. He succeeds Horst Tebbe, who will lead the company’s implementation of a worldwide information system. Before joining Sealed Air, Van Riper was a senior partner with KPMG Peat Marwick LLP.

Jesse J. Greene Jr. is developing into an expanded role. He was named VP, finance, and acting controller at Eastman Kodak Co., in addition to his job as treasurer. Former controller David J. FitzPatrick left the Rochester, N.Y., film company to become CFO of United Technologies Corp., a Hartford-based industrial company.

Data Systems Network Corp. routed John O. Lychos into its CFO spot. The former VP and area controller at Waste Management Inc. succeeds Phil Goy, who left to pursue other interests. Goy will remain as a consultant to the Farmington Hills, Mich., computer network services company.

Live by the Sword…

Like his boss, Al Dunlap, Sunbeam Corp. vice chairman and CFO Russell Kersh could be out of a job if things don’t improve quickly at the troubled company. Sunbeam recently announced the departure of Dunlap from the Delray Beach, Fla., consumer-products company. Now it appears that Kersh may be going with him. Indeed, during an emergency meeting of Sunbeam’s board, Kersh asked if he was also being removed, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

During a conference call announcing Dunlap’s ouster, new chairman Peter A. Langerman hardly gave Kersh a ringing endorsement. “At this point, neither the company nor Russ Kersh has taken any action,” he said. One Wall Street analyst believes Kersh’s fate is tied to Dunlap’s. “He’s not there for the long term,” he says. If Kersh does manage to keep his job, his influence as the number two guy will certainly be diminished. Sunbeam also named Jerry Levin, chairman of Revlon Inc., as chief executive.

The problem, say a number of analysts and investors, was the dynamic duo didn’t know enough about running the operations. Questions have also been raised recently about the companies’ accounting practices. Sunbeam has denied allegations that it used accounting gimmicks to inflate 1997 numbers. The stock has gone from a high of $53 per share to below $20 in June. And the executives had to answer to fund manager Michael Price, who is Sunbeam’s largest shareholder, with 22 percent of the shares, and takeover whiz Ronald Perelman, who got 13 percent of the stock when the company merged with Coleman in March. “These guys own over a third of the company, and they were not about to have Dunlap and Kersh wreck it,” says the analyst. He believes that if Kersh remains, he will have to take a seat, “at the back of the bus.”

At stake is Kersh’s three-year contract worth $875,000 a year in salary, and 1.1 million stock options. But the board is determined to keep Dunlap from getting a hefty severance package, which would also apply to Kersh if he is next. If that happens, don’t expect the pair to go quietly.

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