Management Mayhem at Marvel

Times are increasingly tough for true believers in Marvel Entertainment (NYSE: MVL  ) . Stockholders saw their shares decline by more than 3% today, on news that two top executives have left the company.

The timing couldn't be worse. Barely a month after Avi Arad decided to become an independent producer, Tim Rothwell, president of Worldwide Consumer Products, and Bruno Maglione, president of Marvel International, have, according to an internal memo obtained by The Motley Fool, "decided to pursue other opportunities."

Usually, such codespeak masks a rift between the top brass and departing executives. That may be the case here, but I'm unwilling to speculate. As one of our community members pointed out on our discussion boards, it's impossible to know the real reasons, and the departures may be exactly what Marvel needs.

Still, the timing stinks. Rothwell and Maglione each get to walk away with a year's worth of salary and medical benefits and a portion of unpaid bonuses, while Marvel does bullpen-by-committee, spreading the remaining work among seven executives, according to the internal Marvel memo.

Paul Glitter and Matt Finick will lead the transition. A Google search for both names revealed little, though Finick is listed as Marvel's senior vice president for corporate development. He will oversee operations and finance for Marvel in the U.K. and Japan, while Glitter assumes control of domestic consumer products licensing.

Three other executives, the memo says, will support Glitter and Finick, splitting duty on agent licensing, analytics, and intelligence. Meanwhile, Marvel Studios leaders David Maisel and Kevin Feige will assume oversight of the company's wireless, animation, and interactive segments.

At least Marvel has a short-term plan. That's good. But over the long haul, there's simply no way the comic book publisher will become a movie mogul with a mishmash organization. More work and more staff are needed. Prepare for more thrills and chills, true believers. With Q2 earnings just three weeks away, this stock story is still very much a cliffhanger.

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Fool contributorTim Beyersdoesn't often invest in stock market cliffhangers, though he admits that Marvel's is as entertaining a story as he's seen. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out which stocks he owns by checking Tim's Foolprofile. The Motley Fool has an amazing, incredible, uncannydisclosure policy.


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