Updated from 4:30 p.m. EDT

Disney

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Wednesday named former

Procter & Gamble

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CEO John E. Pepper, Jr., chairman.

Pepper's appointment is effective Jan. 1 of next year. He succeeds former Senator George J. Mitchell, who has served as Disney chairman since March 2004. Pepper was previously an elected independent director at the Burbank, Calif., company.

With the selection of his successor now in place, Senator Mitchell will step down and retire at the end of the year.

"Since joining the Disney board, John has quickly immersed himself in our business and shared his broad and deep expertise in corporate management, global brand building and leadership development," said Robert A. Iger, Disney's CEO.

Iger has won plaudits for his moves at Disney since taking over the chief executive spot from Michael Eisner last fall. Mitchell was perceived as somewhat of a hangover from the old regime and a symbolic reminder of the acrimony that existed at the entertainment conglomerate during the Eisner days.

Iger has since trimmed Eisner's famously Byzantine internal management structure and put together savvy deals to get ABC and ESPN content on new platforms like the iPod. In the eight months since taking the helm, Iger has engineered a number of big deals, most notably a $6.4 billion acquisition of animation powerhouse Pixar. He also oversaw divestiture of the company's long-held ABC radio assets in a deal with

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and has reorganized the company's strategy division.

The company's ABC TV network continues to impress on the ratings and revenue side, while other sectors have performed well. As a result, investors have lifted Disney shares by 22% this year.

Pepper brings to Disney a long track record as the leader of one of the world's largest consumer product companies.

"In John's leadership of the board, Disney's shareholders will benefit from his notable record of success in leading and growing one of the world's largest consumer products companies," Iger added. "He is a man of great integrity and we all look forward to working with him in his new role."

"The Board recognizes the trust investors have placed in us with respect to corporate governance and long term shareholder value creation," said Pepper, in a statement. "I look forward to continuing my close collaboration with the Directors and senior management as the Company takes full advantage of the significant and exciting opportunities before us to grow and build our brands and businesses worldwide."

Disney shares got a lift late Wednesday, climbing 22 cents to $29.60 after the close.