Dis exec gets his travel orders

Latin chief adds oversight of vital European region as part of revamp

Disney is restructuring its European operations, placing the region under the leadership of Latin America chief Diego Lerner, who becomes company president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The role will give Lerner oversight of all lines of business in EMEA except of Disneyland Paris and ESPN but including theatrical, home video, television and consumer products. He will remain president of Walt Disney Latin America.

The European region accounts for the lion's share of Disney's business abroad, meaning Lerner will have responsibilities over business lines easily worth several billion dollars a year.

Lerner will be based in London and report to Disney's Burbank- based international chief Andy Bird. The move is effective immediately.

Lerner will develop and implement a panregional strategy aimed at expanding existing free, pay and subscription-based businesses. (One of his more immediate tasks might be to replace London-based television head Tom Toumazis, who left at the start of the year for Endemol.)

"Expansion in international markets is a key strategic priority for Disney, and Diego's proven ability to nurture and grow Disney's businesses makes him an ideal choice for this new position as we accelerate our efforts across Europe, the Middle East and Africa," Bird said Tuesday.

Disney president and CEO Bob Iger said Lerner will offer "a well-coordinated approach to business developments in the region.

"This restructuring will produce cohesive strategies that create new and innovative businesses and drive incremental growth," he said.

Latin American COO and CFO Claudio Chiaromonte will assume day-to-day responsibilities in that region, reporting to Bird.

As head of Latin American operations, Lerner expanded Disney's pay TV business in the region, overseeing the rollout of Disney Channel, Jetix and Playhouse Disney.

He also launched local content production through Patagonik Film Group and Miravista, Disney's film production arm in Brazil and Mexico. Together, the shingles produced more than 50 films, including the first Disney-branded film produced locally: 2008's "High School Musical: El Desafío."

Lerner joined Disney in 1990 as head of pay TV and video operations in Latin America. Before that, he was an attorney specializing in intellectual property rights in Latin America. (partialdiff)
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