Bob Iger named Disney CEO in shocking development

CNN Business

In a move that shocked Hollywood, Bob Iger, one of the most remarkable CEOs in the history of the Walt Disney Company, is returning to once again rule the media empire.

Bob Chapek, who replaced Iger in 2020 as CEO, is stepping down immediately.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney throughout his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Disney chairman Susan Arnold said in a statement Sunday evening. “The board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely positioned to lead the company through this crucial period.”

The announcement, while surprising to the media industry, comes at a time of great development for Disney. The company is coming off a lackluster earnings report that showed growth for its streaming efforts. However, it came at great cost. Disney’s streaming business lost $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter. That report sent Disney shares tumbling after a year of weak to poor performance.

Chapek led the company through the pandemic, one of its most tumultuous periods in its nearly 100-year history, but ultimately Disney decided its future was in better hands with Iger.

Apart from the pandemic, Chapek had a short but bumpy tenure as head of Disney. Chapek, who served as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products before taking over for Iger, found himself dealing with pay issues with Scarlett Johansson, one of the company’s biggest stars, as well as Disney’s battles with Florida, and its own employees, regarding the state’s controversial bill restricting certain LGBTQ topics in the classroom.

Disney’s stock has also taken a hit lately. It is currently down about 40% this year.

As for Iger, he has an almost mythical status as head of Disney (DIS). He spent 15 years as CEO and helped buy major brands such as Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, home of Star Wars. Iger also closed the $71 billion deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox and started the streaming revolution at Disney ( DIS ) with the creation of Disney ( DIS )+ in November 2019.

Iger remained at Disney as executive chairman and led the company’s creative endeavors. He officially left the company after almost 50 years at the end of last year.

Disney said Sunday that Iger has agreed to serve as CEO for two years with “a mandate from the board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the board to develop a successor to lead the company upon the completion of its period. .”

The move is also surprising as Chapek just renewed his contract. The company’s board unanimously decided to extend Chapek’s contract as CEO for another three years, the company said in June. Chapek’s new contract began in July and was due to run until 2025.

Iger also appeared to be retired with his legacy as one of Disney’s most notable and successful CEOs. Now he is back.

“I am extremely optimistic about the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the board to return as CEO,” Iger said in a statement Sunday. “Disney and its inimitable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the world — especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration.”

Iger added that he is “deeply honored to be asked to once again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unparalleled, bold storytelling.”

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