Walt Disney Co chairman and chief executive Michael Eisner has named Robert A. Iger as his second-in-command, a post that has been vacant since Mike Ovitz left the company in 1996.

Iger, who has been appointed president and chief operating officer, is currently chairman of Disney-owned ABC Group. He has also been appointed to Disney's board. The appointment marks the first time since the death of Frank Wells in 1994 that one executive has held the posts of both president and chief operating officer at Disney.

The news coincided with better than expected first-quarter results for Disney which is in the third year of a financial slump. The company reported a 7% increase in earnings for the three months to December 1999 although full results have yet to be announced. The results were boosted by improved performance at ABC networks which has increased advertising revenue around hit game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.