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Robert Iger's Heir Apparent To Exit Disney

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — In a surprising move, The Walt Disney Company announced that its current Chief Operating Officer, Thomas O. Staggs, would be stepping down from his post, effective May 6th.

Disney said that Mr. Staggs would continue in an advisory role to the company's CEO Robert Iger through the fiscal year.

“Tom has been a great friend and trusted colleague for more than 20 years,” said Mr. Iger of Stagg's departure. “He’s made important contributions to this company, earning wide respect across the organization for his achievements and personal integrity. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together, immensely grateful for the privilege of working with him, and confident that he will be enormously successful in whatever opportunity he chooses.”

A longtime Disney executive, Mr. Staggs was widely seen as the successor to Robert Iger, who has indicated that he is weighing retirement at the end of his current contract, which extends through June 2018.

While Disney offered no insight into why Mr. Staggs was leaving the company, the New York Times reported that some members of Disney's Board of Directors were not convinced he had the skills required to maintain Disney’s creative momentum.

Disney said they will broaden the scope of their current search to identify a new candidate to serve as CEO following Iger's planned retirement.

Mr. Staggs, who has been at Disney for 29 years, became Chief Operating Officer in February 2015, after serving as the head of the company's Parks and Resorts’ global team. Prior to that, he served as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Walt Disney Company, playing a key role in the acquisition of Pixar and Marvel Entertainment. – Staff Writers