Andy Bird, Chairman of Walt Disney International, is set to exit the company after 14 years, Deadline has confirmed. The move comes in the wake of last week’s announcement of a reorganization of Disney’s businesses as it prepares to launch direct-to-consumer services and seeks to grow internationally — and ahead of the pending acquisition of Fox’s film and TV assets.
Last week, it was revealed that Kevin Mayer, who has served as Disney’s Chief Strategy Officer, has been named Chairman of the new Direct-to-Consumer and International business segment. Walt Disney International now reports to Mayer.
The L.A.-based Bird, who I understand will stay with the company through the transition, joined Dis in 2004 and has been responsible for businesses outside the U.S. He reported to Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger. Under Bird, the global team developed and implemented strategies to increase brand affinity and awareness in key international markets, introduce new customers and guests to Disney’s storytelling legacy and iconic characters, and invested in and maximized opportunities in emerging markets.
Bird expanded Disney’s presence around the world with a footprint across six regions and more than 13,500 cast members in more than 40 markets/territories. Prior to joining Disney, the British-born Bird spent nearly a decade with Time Warner and previously held a number of positions in radio and television in Europe.
As Deadline reported last week, the promotions of Mayer and Bob Chapek (head of Disney Parks and Resorts, who is taking on additional responsibility for consumer products), appear to position the execs for consideration to succeed Iger. He was due to retire in 2019 but is expected to remain in the top job and oversee the integration of Fox’s assets, should regulators approve the proposed $52.4B Fox acquisition.