Andy Mooney leaving after 12-year run

Disney consumer products czar Andy Mooney ankled Tuesday to pursue CEO-level opportunities outside the conglom, insiders confirmed.

After 30 years in top merchandising posts at Nike and Disney (where he spent the last 12), Mooney, 54, told CEO Robert Iger last week he was headed for the exits to move up elsewhere. The abrupt departure left Disney without a succession plan but no shortage of possible successors.

Under Mooney’s direction, Disney had fine-tuned its bustling merch biz into a multibillion-dollar juggernaut, making a focus on franchises a companywide effort.

“The contributions that Andy has made to Disney have been enormous,” said president-CEO Robert Iger. “Not only has he consistently delivered business results year after year, but his focus on the Disney brand and the creation of new franchises like Disney Princess will leave a legacy for decades.”

Another frustration for Mooney was Disney corporate policy forbidding its execs from joining the boards at other companies. After receiving offers to both become a CEO and board member at various unspecified firms, Mooney felt it best to step down to pursue his next job.

In an e-mail to Disney employees, Mooney cited an interest in finding a new challenge at a different company but he didn’t specify what his next move was or whether he had already been tapped for a new job.

“I believe this is the perfect time to take that experience into a leadership role with another organization and corporate boards,” wrote Mooney.

With Mooney heading out the door, there’s an open question as to whether Disney will look outside its walls for a new consumer products chief or tap one of Mooney’s direct reports. Among the names bound to be bandied about: Russell Hamption, president of Disney’s publishing division; James Fielding, prexy of Disney Stores and Anne Gates, who oversees sales and marketing for the consumer products unit’s as its exec VP-CFO.

In 2010, Disney had five of the six top franchises, based on merchandise sales, including Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Disney Princess line, “Toy Story” and “Cars.”

Mooney was promoted to chairman in 2003, four years after joining Disney. At Nike, the native Scot rose through the ranks from where he rose to chief marketing officer.

Mooney will stay on through the end of the fiscal year next month to help with the transition.

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