The Walt Disney Company faces a shocking shift on Tuesday. An icon is stepping down.
In a seismic move, the conglomerate said on Tuesday that it is naming Bob Chapek as its next CEO, succeeding Bob Iger immediately. Iger is assuming the role of executive chairman and will lead the board through his contract’s end on Dec. 31, 2021.
Chapek, who has been with the company since 1993, has been chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products since 2018. His new contract began on Feb. 24 and ends on Feb. 28, 2023, with his annual base salary increasing to $2,500,000.
Chapek, who will become Disney’s 7th CEO, will report to Iger and the board of directors. On a conference call with Wall Street analysts Tuesday, Iger said that the Disney board had identified Chapek as his potential successor “quite some time ago.”
“[The succession plan] was not accelerated for any particular reason other than we thought the need was now to make this change,” Iger said on the call.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to assume the role of CEO of what I truly believe is the greatest company in the world, and to lead our exceptionally talented and dedicated cast members and employees,” Chapek said.
Chapek noted, “Bob Iger has built Disney into the most admired and successful media and entertainment company, and I have been lucky to enjoy a front-row seat as a member of his leadership team.”
Since Iger took over as CEO of Disney in 2005, he has presided over a period of dramatic expansion for the company, leading acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. In 2019 alone, Disney had an unprecedented seven blockbusters hit the $1 billion mark at the box office globally.
And, in March 2019, Iger presided over the closing of Disney’s biggest acquisition: the $71.3 billion megadeal for Rupert Murdoch’s Fox assets, including the historic 20th Century Fox studio and Fox Searchlight. Iger’s compensation package was $47.5 million for the last fiscal year.
“The company has gotten larger and more complex in the recent 12 months,” Iger told analysts on the call Tuesday. “With the asset base in place, and our strategy essentially deployed, I felt that I should spend as much time as possible with the creative side as our businesses… because that becomes our biggest priority in 2021.”
Iger added that he will spend time dealing with all of Disney’s creative endeavors, including at Hulu and Disney+.
“My goal is that when I leave here [Chapek] will be as steeped with all matter creative at the company as I am today,” Iger said.
“Bob, I feel very fortunate to be able to work closely with you during this transition, and I know I will be able to benefit greatly from your wisdom and expertise,” Chapek said on the call, adding that he will “embrace the same strategic pillars” that Iger championed.
Amid competition from Netflix, Iger prioritized the conglomerate’s efforts on its own direct to consumer platforms, leading to the acquisition of streaming tech provider BAMTech in 2017 and the launch of the Disney+ platform on Nov. 12 last year.
Iger added, “I have the utmost confidence in Bob and look forward to working closely with him over the next 22 months as he assumes this new role and delves deeper into Disney’s multifaceted global businesses and operations, while I continue to focus on the Company’s creative endeavors.”
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP
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