In a move that shocked Hollywood, Bob Iger, one of the most notable CEOs in the history of the Walt Disney Company, is returning to lead the media empire once again.
Bob Chapek, who replaced Iger in 2020 as CEO, is stepping down immediately.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including guiding the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board of Directors. from Disney, in a statement Sunday evening. “The Board of Directors has concluded that as Disney enters an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely positioned to lead the company through this pivotal time.”
The announcement, while surprising to the media industry, comes at a moment of great evolution for Disney. The company just released a lackluster earnings report that showed growth for its streaming efforts. However, it was very expensive. Disney’s streaming business lost $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter. The report sent Disney shares plummeting after a year of slow to poor performance.
Chapek guided the company through the pandemic, one of its most tumultuous times in its nearly 100-year history, but ultimately Disney decided its future was in better hands with Iger.
Away from the pandemic, Chapek has had a short but bumpy tenure at the helm of Disney. Chapek, who served as president of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products before taking over from Iger, found himself facing pay issues with Scarlett Johansson, one of the company’s biggest stars, as well as to Disney’s battles with Florida and its own employees, over the state’s controversial bill restricting certain LGBTQ topics in the classroom.
Disney shares have also taken a hit lately. It is currently down about 40% this year. Shares rose more than 8% in premarket trading on Monday as investors cheered news of Iger’s return.
Iger has almost mythical status as the leader of Disney (DIS). He spent 15 years as CEO and was instrumental in acquiring major brands like Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, the 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.
He remained at Disney as executive chairman directing the company’s creative efforts. He officially left the company after almost 50 years at the end of last year.
Disney said Sunday that Iger had agreed to serve as CEO for two years with “a mandate from the board of directors to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the board of directors.” administration to develop a successor to lead the company at the end of his term”. .”
This decision is also surprising since Chapek has just renewed his contract. The company’s board voted unanimously to extend Chapek’s contract as CEO for three years, the company announced in June. Chapek’s new contract started in July and was supposed to last until 2025.
Also, it emerged that Iger was retired with his legacy as one of Disney’s most notable and successful CEOs. Now he’s back.
“I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and delighted that the board has asked me to return as CEO,” Iger said in a statement Sunday. “Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the world, most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is inspiring.”
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 bold, unparalleled storytelling.”