Ex-Marvel CEO on How to Pull Out of Bankruptcy, Back to Mega-Profits

By Robert Reiss

Peter Cuneo took over as CEO of Marvel Entertainment in 1999 immediately after it emerged from bankruptcy. Facing high debt, limited cash, and a depressed corporate culture, Marvel had declined to only $0.94 per share when Cuneo became CEO. Cuneo led the incredible turnaround in which Marvel was sold to Disney for $4 billion, or $54 per share, in 2009. Cuneo discussed the key issues that were critical in turning the business around.

“We continued to focus on improving our business with two key changes.” Cuneo explained. “We focused much more on expanding our international business, and after the success of some of the studio movies, we decided to raise a $500 million fund and make our own movies.”

Cuneo also spoke in the video interview about the role of his “hyperactive” board in facilitating the turnaround, despite it being unusual at most companies for board members to take an active role in the actual business. The board at Marvel helped Cuneo by providing direct advice that generated real results.

Peter Cuneo goes on to reveal the critical steps for a successful company turnaround in this interview.
Originally published: Sep 2, 2011

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