Disney fires CEO and brings back Bob Iger to lead the company – Digital Journal

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Bob Iger, who previously served as Disney CEO for 15 years, will return to the role – Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP CHIP SOMODEVILLA

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

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

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney during his long career,” said Susan Arnold, Disney Chairman of the Board.

The board of directors decided that as the company “embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely positioned to lead.”

Chapek spent two years as CEO, a period in which Wall Street worried about the company’s rising expenses. Disney shares have fallen 41 percent this year.

Iger, who previously served as Disney’s CEO for 15 years, increasing the company’s market capitalization five times during that period, has pledged to return as CEO for at least two years, according to the statement.

Iger, now 71, had promoted Chapek as his replacement in 2020, but the relationship soured and earlier this year they rarely spoke to each other.

“I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this extraordinary team…through bold and unrivaled 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, the Shanghai Disney Resort, and launched the Disney+ and ESPN+ streaming services.

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

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

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

As recently as June, Disney’s board of directors had signaled that it still supported Chapek, offering him a three-year contract extension.

Chapek oversaw a marked increase in Disney’s total revenue to $28.7 billion for the fiscal year, which ended October 1, 2022.

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

After dealing with major challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic at the company, Chapek ran into roadblocks in growing Disney’s streaming services.

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

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

Those numbers raised serious concerns for some Wall Street analysts, with CNBC’s “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer last week calling for Disney to fire Chapek and fix 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 Marvel’s “Frozen” and “Frozen 2” and “Black Panther.”

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