Bob Iger returns as CEO of Disney, replacing Bob Chapek after a short, tumultuous stint


Bob Iger is back.

disneyin a shock announcement late Sunday, it said it had reappointed Iger as CEO effective immediately after Iger’s hand-picked successor as CEO, Bob Chapek, came under fire for his management of the entertainment giant.

“It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility — and, I must admit, a little surprise — that I write to you tonight with the news that I am returning to The Walt Disney Company as Chief Executive Officer,” Iger wrote. to employees in an email obtained by CNBC.

Shares of Disney, a Dow unit, were up about 8% in premarket trading on Monday.

The dramatic turn of events comes 11 months after Iger left Disney, and days after Chapek said he planned to cut costs at the company, which has been battling rising costs at its streaming service, Disney+. Earlier this month, the company’s earnings fell far short of Wall Street expectations. Even the theme park business, which reported an increase in revenue, turned in less than analysts had expected.

Iger’s return also comes as legacy media companies contend with a rapidly changing landscape, as advertising dollars dry up and consumers increasingly abandon their cable subscriptions in favor of streaming.

Iger will help the company’s board develop a new successor, Disney said in a press release.

Chapek was named CEO in February 2020, succeeding Iger, who had previously said he would not be returning to the position.

Shares of Disney are down about 41% year-to-date from Friday’s close. The stock hit a 52-week low on Nov. 9.

Iger has signed on as CEO for two years, Disney said on Sunday, “with a mandate from the board of directors to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the board in developing a successor to to lead the company at the completion of his term.”

The company said Chapek has stepped down. Shortly after Chapek took over in 2020, Covid-19 became a pandemic and forced the closure of Disney’s theme parks and prevented movies from being released in theaters for a time. Nevertheless, the company’s stock rose in 2021, before being razed to the ground in recent months.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his services to Disney throughout his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, Disney’s chairman of the board. She will remain in that position.

Chapek, whose contract as CEO was renewed earlier this year, was planning a hiring freeze, cost cuts and layoffs across the company, according to a memo CNBC received earlier this month. The internal memo came three days after the company’s poor quarterly report.

Iger, who had been CEO at Disney for 15 years, had favored Chapek as his successor. The two eventually got into a fight, and their conflict cast a shadow over the company’s future. Chapek distanced himself from Iger with a series of decisions, including his new approach to streaming pricing for Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+.

Iger is a widely respected and beloved figure at Disney. He oversaw the deals to acquire Pixar, Lucasfilm and its “Star Wars” properties, and Marvel – all of which have become giant multi-billion dollar intellectual properties.

Meanwhile, Chapek angered employees with his initial silence about the “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida, where the company’s Walt Disney World resort is located. He then received backlash from Republican politicians, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, for opposing it. Earlier this month, CNBC reported that Chapek had been in contact with Republican leaders in preparation for the GOP takeover of the House.

Chapek also drew criticism for his handling of the controversy over Scarlett Johansson’s pay for her work in the Marvel film “Black Widow.”

Read Iger’s email to Disney employees here:

Dear colleagues and cast members,

It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility—and, I must admit, a little surprise—that I write to you tonight with the news that I am returning to The Walt Disney Company as Chief Executive Officer.

When I look at the creative success of our teams at our Studios, Disney General Entertainment, ESPN and International, the rapid growth of our streaming services, the phenomenal reinvention and revival of our parks, the continued great work of ABC News, and so many other accomplishments in our companies, I am impressed by your achievements and look forward to taking on many new challenges with you.

I know this business has asked so much of you over the past three years, and these times certainly continue to be quite challenging, but as you’ve heard me say before, I’m an optimist, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my years at Disney , it is that even in the face of uncertainty – perhaps especially in the face of uncertainty – our employees and Cast Members achieve the impossible.

You will hear more from me and your leaders tomorrow and in the coming weeks. In the meantime, allow me to express my deep gratitude for all that you do. Disney holds a special place in the hearts of people around the world because of you, and your dedication to this company and its mission to bring joy to people through great storytelling is an inspiration to me every day.

Bob Iger

Read Disney’s full announcement here:

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) today announced that Robert A. Iger will return to lead Disney as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Mr. Iger, who has worked with the company for more than four decades, including 15 years as CEO, has agreed to serve as CEO of Disney for two years, with a board mandate to set the strategic direction for renewed growth. and work closely with the Board of Directors in seeking a successor to lead the Company at the end of his term. Mr. Iger succeeds Bob Chapek, who has stepped down from his position.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his services to Disney throughout his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, chairman of the board. “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 critical period.”

“Mr. Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as Executive Chairman 11 months ago, and is greatly admired by Disney employees around the world – all of which will ensure a seamless collaboration.” leadership transition,” she said.

The position of Chairman of the Board of Directors remains unchanged, with Ms. Arnold in that capacity.

“I am extremely optimistic about the future of this great company and I am thrilled that the Board of Directors is asking me to return as CEO,” said Mr. Iger. “Disney and its incomparable 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. I am deeply honored to be asked to once again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission of creative excellence to inspire generations through unparalleled, bold storytelling.

“During his 15 years as CEO, from 2005 to 2020, Mr. Iger helped build Disney into one of the world’s most successful and admired media and entertainment companies with a strategic vision focused on creative excellence, technology innovation and international growth He expanded on Disney’s legacy of unparalleled storytelling with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox and quintupled the company’s market capitalization during his time as CEO Mr. Iger continued to lead Disney’s creative efforts until his departure as executive chairman last December, and the company’s robust content pipeline is a testament to its leadership and vision.”

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