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Arnold M. Knightly

Harrah's hires former Disney exec

20 October 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Harrah's Entertainment has tapped a former Walt Disney Co. executive as the gaming company's newest senior executive.

Former Disney executive Peter E. Murphy is joining the operator's senior management team as president of strategy and development, Harrah's announced Monday.

He had been serving as adviser to private equity firm Apollo Management, which co-owns Harrah's.

Murphy will focus on new domestic and international development, mergers and acquisitions, and the expansion of relationships with other companies in various industries including entertainment, retail, airline and hospitality.

The hire comes amid a flurry of activity by Harrah's, including the purchase of part of Planet Hollywood's debt in what analysts surmise could be a future acquisition, the announcement last week of the company's involvement in a project in Slovakia, and an agreement to purchase a horse-racetrack in Cleveland.

"Peter is an accomplished, thoughtful and rigorous executive who will help us significantly as we continue to identify areas for future growth and to explore opportunities created by current economic conditions," Loveman said.

Murphy joined Disney in 1988, rising to various executive roles including chief strategic officer, senior adviser to the CEO and senior executive vice president between 1998 until 2005. He was involved in Disney's acquisition of the Miramax Film Corp., Capital Cities/ABC, Fox Family Worldwide, 40 percent of E! Entertainment Television, Baby Einstein and the Muppets franchise.

Murphy, who was called Michael "Eisner's top cop," by Businessweek, was reassigned when Bob Iger took over day-to-day operations in 2005, and soon left the company.

In a Vanity Fair profile of Murphy months before he left Disney, he was called "a brilliant strategist and tough deal maker," who Eisner relied on "to reinforce his decisions"

The article added: "When Eisner changes his mind ... it is Murphy who goes into battle with the proposed revisions" to division heads, business units or in negotiations for acquisition.

Murphy graduated in 1988 from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.

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