Iger back as Disney CEO
November 21, 2022
By Colin Mann
In a surprise move late on November 20th, The Walt Disney Company announced that former CEO Bob Iger is returning to lead Disney as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately.
Iger, who spent more than four decades at the Company, including 15 years as its CEO, has agreed to serve as Disney’s CEO for two years, with a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term. Iger succeeds Bob Chapek, who has stepped down from his position.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over 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 situated to lead the Company through this pivotal 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 he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide—all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership,” she said.
The position of Chairman of the Board remains unchanged, with Arnold serving in that capacity.
“I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO,” declared Iger. “Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe—most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration. I am deeply honoured to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivalled, bold storytelling.”
During his 15 years as CEO, from 2005 to 2020, 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, technological innovation and international growth. He expanded on Disney’s legacy of storytelling with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox and increased the Company’s market capitalisation fivefold during his time as CEO. Iger continued to direct Disney’s creative endeavours until his departure as Executive Chairman in December 2021, and the Company’s robust pipeline of content is a testament to his leadership and vision.
Iger was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Disney in October 2005 and was elected Chairman in 2012. In February 2020, he assumed the role of Executive Chairman and directed the company’s creative endeavours until his retirement in December 2021
In September 2022, Iger was recognised as an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the UK / US relations.
Paolo Pescatore, TYMT analyst at PP Foresight, described the news as a “huge surprise and completely unexpected,” suggesting that it underlines the state of the streaming landscape and challenges faced by all traditional media companies pivoting towards this new world.
“The bold move might feel like the right one. However, the business is at a different please of growth. It will take time and immediate success is not guaranteed,” he warned. “Short term measures will likely mean a focus on restricting operations and efficiencies,” he concluded.