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Faces In The News
Mitchell Agrees To Stay On At Iger's Disney
Chris Noon, 12.05.05, 9:39 AM ET

LONDON - At the behest of The Walt Disney Company board of directors, erstwhile U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell has agreed to stay on as chairman while his successor is found.

Disney's (nyse: DIS - news - people ) board also appointed two new independent directors--John E. Pepper Jr., former chairman and chief executive of Procter & Gamble (nyse: PG - news - people ), and Orin C. Smith, former president and CEO of Starbucks (nasdaq: SBUX - news - people ), effective January 1, 2006. "Disney shareholders will benefit from their decades of world-class leadership, finance and high profile consumer brand experience," declared Mitchell in a statement.

Disney shareholders can also look forward to a windfall on the Epiphany: On January 6, 2006 they'll receive a cash dividend of $0.27 per share, a 12.5% increase on last year's dividend. The company's third consecutive year of double-digit earnings growth means it can continue to return capital to shareholders "even as we invest for future growth", explained Robert A. Iger, Disney's president and CEO.

"In addition to this increased dividend, since August 2004, we have invested over $3.9 billion to purchase approximately 154 million shares of Disney stock, which further demonstrates our confidence in growing shareholder value over time," added Iger.

Disney said that Mitchell, who had planned to retire following its 2006 annual meeting, will remain a director, and continue as chairman, through December 2006 to facilitate an "orderly chairman succession process."

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