Ex-Disney CEO Bob Iger is back in charge of the company, less than 3 years after handing over the reins to Bob Chapek
- Disney is replacing its CEO Bob Chapek, the company announced on Sunday night.
- Bob Iger, the company's CEO from 2005 to 2020, is taking the reins again.
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger is back in charge at Disney, replacing Bob Chapek after less than three years at the helm.
The company's board announced the snap change in leadership in a press release on Sunday night. The change is effective immediately, per The Walt Disney Company.
Disney said in the release that Iger has agreed to serve as the company's CEO for two years, during which he will work with the Board to find a successor.
"The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period," said Susan Arnold, Disney board chairman, in the company's press release.
Arnold said Iger has the "deep respect" of Disney's senior leadership and is "greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide."
"I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO," Iger said in the company's Sunday press release. "I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling," he added.
Iger, who first stepped into the role of CEO in 2005, extended his contract at Disney numerous times over the years as the company searched for a potential successor. He ultimately stepped down as CEO in February 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, handing over operational control to Chapek but staying on as executive chairman through 2021.
Tensions between the two men were high during Iger's final year at the company, Insider's Claire Atkinson reported in July, citing people familiar with Iger's thinking.
Iger's return to Disney came after the entertainment giant posted a dismal fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report just two weeks ago. It reported an operating loss of $1.47 billion — more than doubling from the previous year — for its direct-to-consumer segment, which includes Disney+. The company's share price tanked 13% in a single day after the earnings report, taking the stock down to a 52-week low.
On November 11, Chapek had told division leads in an internal memo the company was planning hiring freezes and job cuts, CNBC reported.
This was the latest in a string of negative news Chapek had to deal with since taking over as CEO. Earlier in 2022, Chapek faced criticism over Disney's initial lack of response over Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill, and irked fans after hiking prices at Disney parks.
In July, actress Scarlett Johansson sued Disney for violating her contract after the company simultaneously released her film "Black Widow" on its Disney+ streaming platform and in theaters, which she said impacted her salary. The two reached a settlement in October.
There had previously been speculation about whether Disney would keep Chapek after his initial contract expired in February 2023. But Disney extended Chapek's tenure in June with a new contract through July 2025.
Company and industry observers had speculated since Iger's departure from Disney about his possible return as CEO, but he repeatedly dismissed the idea. In 2021, he told CNBC he was leaving the company partly because he had become "overconfident" and less tolerant of other people's opinions.
In a January interview with Kara Swisher for her podcast "Sway," Iger called the idea that he'd return to Disney as CEO "ridiculous," adding, "You can't go home again. I'm gone."
Erik Gordon, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, called Iger's return to the CEO role the "biggest comeback coup since [Steve] Jobs retook Apple."
Disney share price closed 0.3% higher at $91.80 on Friday. The stock is down nearly 41% this year.
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