Former Disney boss Bob Iger is back in business. At 71, the manager who had left his place as CEO to Bob Chapek in 2020 after fifteen years in this position and forty years at home is once again heading the Disney group with immediate effect, the company announced on Sunday.
Mr. Iger accepted a two-year mission with the objective of establishing a strategy for “renewed growth”, Disney said in a statement. In particular, he will be responsible for finding a successor.
“Mr. Iger has the deep respect of the Disney leadership team (…) and he is greatly admired by company employees all over the world; all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership,” said Susan Arnold, the group’s board chair. “As Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely positioned to lead the company through this pivotal time,” she added.
The company, founded in 1923, did not specify the reasons for Bob Chapek’s departure. “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, in the press release.
Disney stock down sharply
Disney veteran Bob Chapek took over in early 2020, just at the start of the pandemic. He had to manage the closure of amusement parks and cinemas but also the expansion of streaming.
The results of this activity have recently emerged mixed. If Disney+ gained subscribers again in the third quarter – it had more than 164 million at the end of September – the Californian group’s streaming platforms (Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu) suffered an operating loss of nearly 1.5 billion dollars (1.4 billion euros). The action of Disney had lost more than 13% the day after the announcement of these results, at the beginning of November; it is down more than 40% compared to the beginning of the year.
The mandate of Mr. Chapek was also marked by a complicated episode in Florida where the company had, at the beginning of the year, initially decided not to speak out against a law prohibiting the teaching of subjects related to orientation. sexual or gender identity in elementary school.
Pushed by employees, Mr. Chapek finally openly criticized the text, arousing the ire of conservative Governor Ron DeSantis. In return, the latter put an end to the favorable administrative status enjoyed by the Disney World amusement park since the 1960s in this state.
The father of Disney+
At the head of the company from 2005 to 2020, Bob Iger, who remained chairman of the group’s board of directors until 2021, had transformed it into an entertainment empire, between the acquisitions of the animation studio Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009 or most of the assets of the former 21st Century Fox group in 2019. He had ended his term with the launch of Disney+. Under his tenure, Disney’s market capitalization had quintupled.
“I am very optimistic about the future of this great company and delighted that the board has asked me to return as managing director”commented Bob Iger in the press release.