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Nanula to Head Disney Stores Chain

November 09, 1994|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Richard D. Nanula, Walt Disney Co.'s chief financial officer and one of the most senior black executives in the entertainment business, was named Tuesday to head the company's 335-outlet chain of Disney Stores.

Disney said the move was made by Chairman Michael D. Eisner to give the 34-year-old Nanula, who is considered one of the company's rising young stars, operational experience. His title will be president of Disney Store Worldwide.

Nanula replaces Paul Pressler, who was appointed president of Disneyland on Monday. Nanula is expected to continue serving as chief financial officer while the company conducts a search for his successor.

Nanula's appointment is part of a reshuffling of Disney's executive ranks that was triggered in part by the death in April of President Frank G. Wells and the subsequent departure of studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg. It is also seen as part of a larger effort by Disney to put in place its next generation of senior executives.

In a statement, Eisner said the company wants to give Nanula and other top young executives "hands-on experience with our various businesses to prepare them for broader roles within the organization."

Nanula, a Los Angeles native who joined Disney eight years ago, has been involved in a number of major tasks recently. Earlier this year, he and Disney Senior Executive Vice President Sanford Litvack led the negotiations with European banks that resulted in the successful financial restructuring of the ailing Euro Disney theme park near Paris.

Nanula also initiated the much-publicized sale last year of $300 million in 100-year bonds, which some wags called Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" bonds due to their unusually long maturity date. In an interview, Nanula said his only goal at this point for the unit is to "grow it as quickly and as profitably as possible."

As the head of Disney's stores, Nanula will oversee one of Disney's fastest-growing operations. The number of Disney stores has doubled in the past two years, and plans call for raising the number to about 600 worldwide by 1998.

The growth in stores was one of the chief reasons that revenue for Disney's consumer products segment soared 24% to $1.3 billion in the nine months ended June 30.

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