Lerner's reach at Disney expands to Europe

New role created to bring together business lines

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

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

The European region accounts for the lion's share of Mouse House business abroad, meaning that 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 effectively immediately.

Lerner will develop and implement a pan-regional strategy aimed at expanding existing free, pay and subscription-based businesses in the EMEA region.

"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. "We are delighted that he will apply his expertise to this important part of the world for Disney."

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 added.

Latin American COO and CFO Claudio Chiaromonte will assume all day-to-day responsibilities in the region, reporting directly 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 two shingles produced more than 50 films, including the first Disney branded film produced locally -- 2008's "High School Musical: El Desafio."

Lerner also kicked off local development of original TV programming, including the reversioning of "Desperate Housewives" in several Latin American countries and U.S. Hispanic markets.

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.
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