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DreamWorks Gains on New CFO

Shares of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. closed up nearly 10 percent on Monday after the company appointed a new chief financial officer and saw its latest movie open strong in China. Fazal Merchant will assume the top financial position at the Glendale animation studio on Sept. 15. Merchant joins DreamWorks from DirectTV, where he was most recently chief financial officer of DirectTV Latin America. He is replacing Lewis Coleman, the chief financial officer since February 2007, who will step down from that role when Merchant joins the studio. Coleman was appointed DreamWorks vice chairman on Aug. 1 and will continue in that capacity. He is earning $2.6 million in his board position, up from $2 million as CFO, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “As we transition and augment our executive leadership team to best fit the needs of the company, I’m thrilled to welcome Fazal into the role of CFO,” Coleman said in a statement. “He brings with him not only passion for our business, but also experience drawn from senior leadership roles across multiple industries, which will be an incredible asset as we continue to grow and diversify.” Prior to his role at DirecTV, Merchant was a managing director and group head at the Royal Bank of Scotland and a managing director in the Investment Banking Division of Barclays Capital, where he spent seven years advising clients on strategy, financing and risk solutions. Merchant also spent nine years at Ford Motor Co. in various treasury and finance management positions across functions in the United States and Europe. Merchant graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1995 and received an MBA from Indiana University in 1998. The studio also saw its movie “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” have a dominant opening weekend in China after underperforming domestically. The sequel climbed to the top of the international box office, pulling in more than $37 million over the weekend. Much of that bump came from its opening in China, where it earned nearly $26 million alone. The follow up to the 2010 hit has brought in about $170 million domestically and about $537 million internationally – substantially more than the $495 million the first movie brought in from overseas. The success follows a series of duds for DreamWorks, including the spring release “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” and last summer’s “Turbo,” which forced the studio to take a combined write-down that totaled $70 million. Shares closed up $1.94, or 9.4 percent, to $22.55 on the Nasdaq.

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