Bob Iger is OUT as CEO of Disney as company taps executive Robert Chapek to replace him

Disney CEO Bob Iger has been abruptly replaced as the head of the iconic company.

The company announced on Tuesday after the close of trading that Iger would be stepping down as CEO and appointed executive chairman, effective immediately. 

Robert Chapek, previously Disney’s chairman of parks, experiences and products will take over as CEO.

‘I will continue to conduct the company’s creative endeavors while also leading the board,’ Iger said on a conference call with reporters and analysts. 

Disney shares, already down some 13 percent this month, dropped as much as 2.6 percent in after-hours trading on the surprise news. 

Disney CEO Bob Iger has been abruptly replaced as the head of the iconic company

Disney CEO Bob Iger has been abruptly replaced as the head of the iconic company

Robert Chapek, previously Disney's chairman of amusement parks, will take over as CEO

Robert Chapek, previously Disney’s chairman of amusement parks, will take over as CEO

Iger’s latest contract had been extended through 2021, and his departure came as a surprise to those who follow the company. 

‘Did not see this coming — Wowza,’ tweeted LightShed media analyst Rich Greenfield. 

Iger, 69, had been CEO of Disney since 2005, and oversaw the acquisitions of Marvel, Pixar and LucasFilms, three massive and ultimately highly lucrative purchases for the company.  

His most recent coup was orchestrating a $71 billion acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets and launching the Disney Plus streaming service in November. That service gained nearly 29 million paid subscribers in less than three months. 

Iger will remain chairman through the end of his contract December 31, 2021.

Iger said it was an ‘optimal time’ for him to step down following Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets and the launch of Disney Plus.  

‘I felt that with the asset base in place and our strategy essentially deployed that I should be spending as much time possible on essentially the creative side of our company,’ Iger said.

Iger has been famously involved in the creative side of Disney endeavors, reportedly watching rough cuts of the Disney Plus series The Mandalorian three times through to give feedback.

Chapek, 60, is only the seventh CEO in Disney history. Chapek had been head of the parks, experiences and products division since it was created in 2018. 

‘It’s a tremendous honor for me to assume the role of CEO of the Walt Disney company,’ Chapek said on the conference call. 

Chapek, 60, is only the seventh CEO in Disney history. Chapek had been head of the parks, experiences and products division since it was created in 2018.

Chapek, 60, is only the seventh CEO in Disney history. Chapek had been head of the parks, experiences and products division since it was created in 2018.

Robert Chapek, previously Disney's chairman of parks, experiences and products will take over as CEO

Robert Chapek, previously Disney’s chairman of parks, experiences and products will take over as CEO

Before that he was chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts since 2015. Before that, he was president of the Disney Consumer Products segment from 2011 to 2015.

Chapek’s new base salary as CEO will be $2,500,000. He will also be granted a long-term stock incentive award having a target value of not less than $15 million, and annual bonuses targeted at three times his base salary, according to filings.

Chapeck’s CEO contract with Disney extends three years, through February 2023. 

Susan Arnold, the independent lead director of the Disney board said succession planning had been ongoing for several years.  

End of an era: Iger’s triumphant 15 years as Disney CEO

Iger became chief executive of Disney in 2005 after a shareholder revolt by Roy E. Disney led to the ouster of longtime chief Michael Eisner. 

In the years that followed, Iger steered Disney through successful acquisitions of Lucasfilms, Marvel, Pixar and other brands that became big moneymakers for Disney.

Iger, a former weatherman, joined broadcaster ABC in 1974, 22 years before Disney bought the network.

At ABC, Iger developed such successful programs as ‘Home Improvement,’ ‘The Drew Carey Show,’ and ‘America´s Funniest Home Videos’ and was instrumental in launching the quiz show ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.’ 

Iger (second from right) is seen with (from left) "Star Wars" film franchise creator George Lucas, cast members Billy Dee Williams and Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford stand at the the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge attraction at Disneyland Park last May

Iger (second from right) is seen with (from left) “Star Wars” film franchise creator George Lucas, cast members Billy Dee Williams and Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford stand at the the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction at Disneyland Park last May

He was also criticized for cancelling well-regarded but expensive shows such as ‘Twin Peaks,’ ‘China Beach,’ and ‘thirtysomething.’

Iger was the second-highest paid CEO in 2018, as calculated by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm. 

He earned $65.6 million. The top earner was Discovery’s David Zaslav who earned $129.5 million.

 

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