D'works Ani CFO Leslie leaving

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Kris Leslie, who helped shepherd DreamWorks Animation through its initial public offering and subsequent growing pains, including a regulatory inquiry into "Shrek 2" DVD sales, said she will relinquish her role as chief financial officer after the company reports its year-end results.

Leslie, who once was chief financial officer of DreamWorks Studios and has spent 10 years working with DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, will remain with the company through February 2007.

The 42-year-old executive did not say what her next career move might be. DWA said Friday that it will begin searching for a replacement.

"I have accomplished a lot of what I set out to do and think that this is the right time for a transition for both me and the company," Leslie said.

Leslie, speaking this month at a Wall Street conference in New York, said DWA will focus on developing sequels to hit franchises in order to maximize profit.

DWA also recently completed its $330 million secondary stock offering triggered by billionaire investor Paul Allen that Leslie recently said freed up the company's financial structure.

"We will now look at investing in the company in ways that offer the best value for our shareholders," she told Wall Street analysts.

As a top financial executive with DreamWorks and DWA, Leslie's fingerprints also are on the $1.6 billion buyout of the DreamWorks live-action studio by Paramount Pictures a year ago, a deal that gave Paramount worldwide distribution rights to DWA movies.

As chief financial officer, Leslie has presided over the financial dealings of a company whose stock has gone through convulsions since going public in October 2004. After soaring past $40 a share on a couple of occasions, DWA stock sunk on a quarterly earnings miss and traded sideways, and worse, for about a year.

More recently, DWA shares have soared 39% since bottoming out in August. They were off fractionally Friday, when Leslie announced her impending departure, to $28.33, representing a 29% gain from the IPO price a little more than two years ago.

"I am grateful for the guidance and support she has provided from the early stages of creating DreamWorks through our transition into a public company and to a new distribution partner," Katzenberg said Friday.
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