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Murphy 2nd Top Executive to Leave Disney in Month


One of Walt Disney Co.'s more powerful, and low-profile, executives is leaving the company, the second top executive to leave in the last month.

Lawrence P. Murphy, the company's chief strategist, "resigned to pursue other opportunities," Disney announced Wednesday.

The company said Murphy will continue to consult Disney on strategic matters. He will be replaced by Peter E. Murphy, no relation, who has been chief financial officer and senior vice president of ABC. Peter Murphy previously was a senior vice president of strategic planning at Disney.

Separately, Disney named Thomas O. Staggs as its new chief financial officer, replacing Richard Nanula, who announced his departure last month. Nanula, one of the highest-ranking black executives in Hollywood, is leaving to become chief executive of Phoenix-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., the world's largest hotel and gaming company.

Staggs will oversee controller functions, acquisitions, taxes, investor relations and treasury matters. Peter Murphy will oversee business development and long-term planning.

Lawrence Murphy joined Disney from Marriott International Inc., where he was vice president of business planning and development.

At Disney, he was a key executive working in the company's acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC. He also has served as chairman of Disney Cruise Lines, the company's entry into the cruise business that encountered several delays.

In a statement, Walt Disney Chairman Michael Eisner lauded Lawrence Murphy, saying that his "leadership of our strategic planning and brand management groups over the past 13 years has contributed to the continued development of our existing businesses and the launching of new initiatives such as the acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC."

Disney shares rose $3.69 to $114.63 on the NYSE.

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