Disney’s heir apparent, Thomas O. Staggs, has decided to step down

Disney’s heir apparent, Thomas O. Staggs, has decided to step down

In an announcement made late Monday afternoon, the Walt Disney Co. said that its Chief Operating Officer Thomas O. Staggs has abruptly decided to resign from his post.

According to the announcement, Staggs will leave Walt Disney co. on May 6, 2016.

The announcement of Staggs' imminent departure from the Walt Disney Co. has sent a shock wave through the entertainment industry, especially since it was being widely assumed that Staggs is the heir apparent to the company's 65-year-old CEO Bob Iger, who took over in 2005 and will be retiring in June 2018.

With Staggs leaving the Walt Disney Co. next month, and Iger set to retire in 2018, the company said that the scope of its succession planning process is being broadened by the company's board.

Meanwhile, going by the opinion of analysts, the Walt Disney Co. will likely seek an external candidate to take charge as the company's next CEO, Iger's successor. Towards that end, analyst Tuna Amobi - at S&P Global Market Intelligence - "It's hard to point to any internal candidate they'll go with at this point."

It is also being widely speculated by analysts that potential successors to Iger could likely include Disney board member Sheryl Sandberg - the chief operating officer at Facebook; and ex-Disney executive Steve Burke, who is currently overseeing NBCUniversal at Comcast Corp.