Ex-Disney CEO Bob Iger makes shock RETURN to entertainment giant as his successor Bob Chapek quits

BREAKING NEWS: Ex-Disney boss Bob Iger makes a shock RETURN as entertainment giant’s CEO as his successor Bob Chapek quits after the company’s share price plummeted after a row with Ron DeSantis over the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

  • Iger has worked for Disney for more than four decades – including 15 years as CEO before his sensational departure just 11 months ago
  • The entertainment giant’s former boss Bob Chapek quit the role after coming under fire for his management when Disney’s share prices plummeted

Bob Iger has returned as CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

The entertainment giant’s former boss, Bob Chapek, quit the role after coming under fire for his management when Disney’s stock prices plummeted after a row with Florida’s governor over the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Iger has worked for Disney for more than four decades – including 15 years as CEO before his sensational departure just 11 months ago.

Susan Arnold, CEO, said in a statement: “We thank Bob Chapek for his contributions to Disney throughout his long career, including leading the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.

‘The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex phase of industry transformation, Bob Iger is in a unique position to lead the company through this pivotal phase.

‘Mister. Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s leadership team, with whom he worked closely for most of his life up until his departure as Executive Chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide – all of which will ensure a seamless leadership transition.’

Bob Iger is now Disney's CEO - having left the role just 11 months ago

Bob Iger is now Disney’s CEO – having left the role just 11 months ago

Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek said he initially chose not to oppose Florida's Don't Say Gay bill in order to balance the needs of customers and employees

Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek said he initially chose not to oppose Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill in order to balance the needs of customers and employees

She added that Iger’s career with the entertainment giant, beginning in 2005, helped build Disney into “one of the world’s most successful and most admired media and entertainment companies with a strategic vision focused on creative excellence, technological innovation and international growth.” .

Chapek got into hot water last spring when he failed to take a public stance on Ron DeSanti’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which barred schools from speaking to children between kindergarten and third grade about sexuality or gender.

According to an internal memo circulated at the time, Chapek felt the company could better advocate for inclusion through its content and by working with lawmakers behind the scenes.

The memo’s revelations drew outrage from Disney employees, who called Chapek’s decision weak and disappointing. Chapek later apologized in March, publicly condemned the bill and announced that Disney had suspended all of its political contributions in Florida.

Chapek explained that he wanted Disney to be a brand that “rose above” the political fray and could serve as a beacon of optimism and harmony in the world.

“We try to give everything to everyone,” Chapek said at the time. “That’s usually very difficult because we’re The Walt Disney Company.”

Disney shares are down about 41% this year through Friday's close.  The stock hit a 52-week low on Nov. 9

Disney shares are down about 41% this year through Friday’s close. The stock hit a 52-week low on Nov. 9

“We certainly don’t want to get caught up in political evasion, but at the same time we recognize that we want to represent a better future for families of all types, regardless of how they define themselves,” he said.

After Chapek’s apology announced a halt to political donations in Florida, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responded by beginning the legislative process to remove Disney’s special zone status — known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

Reedy Creek includes Disney World and the surrounding properties. Disney and the Florida government established it as an independent jurisdiction 55 years ago, allowing Disney to operate like a county government. It is governed by a board of directors chosen by Disney and other companies in the country.

After DeSantis’ abrupt decision, residents of the surrounding counties who would assume Reedy Creek’s debts sued the government.

But Disney quickly hit back at DeSantis, saying there is a clause in its original contract that stipulates state or local governments will be responsible for its $1 billion bond debt if it is dissolved.

Chapek landed in hot water last spring when he failed to take a public stance on Ron DeSanti's 'Don't Say Gay' bill, which barred schools from speaking to children between kindergarten and third grade about sexuality or gender

Chapek landed in hot water last spring when he failed to take a public stance on Ron DeSanti’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which barred schools from speaking to children between kindergarten and third grade about sexuality or gender

Full transcript of the Disney statement on Bob Iger’s return to the CEO position

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) today announced that Robert A. Iger is returning to the helm of Disney as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Mr. Iger, who has spent more than four decades with the company, including 15 years as CEO, has agreed to serve as Disney’s CEO for two years, with the board’s mandate to set strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely together with the board in developing a successor to lead the company after his term expires. Mr. Iger succeeds Bob Chapek, who has resigned from his position.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney throughout his long career, including leading the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, CEO. “The board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is in a unique position to lead the company through this pivotal phase.”

“Mr. Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s leadership team, with whom he worked closely for most of his life up until his departure as Executive Chairman 11 months ago, and is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide – all of which will allow for a seamless leadership transition, ” She said.

The position of CEO remains unchanged, with Ms. Arnold filling that role.

“I am extremely optimistic about the future of this great company and I am delighted to be asked by the board to return as CEO,” said Mr. Iger. “Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the world – especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration. I am deeply honored to be asked to once again lead this remarkable team with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling.

“During his 15-year tenure as CEO from 2005 to 2020, Mr. Iger helped build Disney into one of the world’s most successful and respected media and entertainment companies with a strategic vision focused on creative excellence, technological innovation and international growth. He continued Disney’s legacy of unparalleled storytelling with acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox, and increased the company’s market capitalization five-fold during his tenure as CEO. Mr. Iger continued to lead Disney’s creative endeavors until his departure as Executive Chairman last December, and the company’s robust content pipeline is a testament to his leadership and vision.”

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