Disney invites CEO and brings Bob Iger back to the helm of the company

Disney invites CEO and brings Bob Iger back to the helm of the company


Disney ousted chief executive Bob Chapek on Sunday and announced it had brought back former CEO Bob Iger to take back the reins.

The change, a dramatic turn of events for one of the world’s largest media conglomerates, is effective immediately, Disney said in a statement.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney throughout his long career,” said Susan Arnold, Disney CEO.

The Board of Directors determined that as the company “embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry change, Bob Iger is in a unique position to lead.”

Chapek spent two years as CEO, a time when Wall Street was concerned about rising spending at the company. Disney stock is down 41 percent this year.

Iger, who previously served as Disney’s CEO for 15 years and during which time the company’s market cap quintupled, has pledged to return as CEO for at least two years, the statement said.

Iger, now 71, had promoted Chapek to be his successor in 2020, but the relationship deteriorated and earlier this year the pair barely spoke.

“I am deeply honored to be asked to once again lead this remarkable team… through unrivaled, bold storytelling,” said Iger.

Under Iger’s leadership, Disney acquired Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox. It also opened its first theme park in China — Shanghai Disney Resort — and launched streaming services Disney+ and ESPN+.

Chapek angered many of Disney’s 200,000 employees earlier this year when he flouted the “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida, where a Disney theme park is located. The law prohibits public schools from teaching learners in kindergarten through third grade about sexual orientation or gender identity.

Chapek remained silent on the subject until pressure mounted among Disney employees.

The scandal prompted Florida to end Disney’s self-governing status at its Orlando theme park, effective June 2023.

As recently as June, Disney’s board of directors indicated it would continue to support Chapek and offered him a three-year contract extension.

Chapek significantly increased Disney’s total revenue to $28.7 billion for the fiscal year ended October 1, 2022.

But costs also rose sharply and Chapek announced company-wide cost-cutting measures last week and said layoffs were likely.

After overcoming major challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic at the company, Chapek encountered speed bumps ramping up Disney’s streaming services.

Earlier this month, he reported an increase of 12.1 million Disney+ subscribers — bringing the global total to 164.2 million. Disney’s Hulu and ESPN+ also added a million and 1.5 million subscribers, respectively.

But that news was tempered by soaring operating losses at streaming services, which nearly doubled to $1.47 billion last quarter.

Those numbers gave some Wall Street analysts serious concerns, and CNBC show Mad Money host Jim Cramer last week urged Disney to fire Chapek and repair the “company’s balance sheet from hell.”

During Iger’s tenure, Disney produced a number of record-breaking films, including Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, the highest-grossing film of all time. The company also produced Frozen and Frozen 2, as well as Marvel’s Black Panther.

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