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Bob Iger steps down as Disney CEO in surprise announcement; Bob Chapek replaces him

Bob Iger

Bob Iger, 69, has stepped down as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, effective immediately and Bob Chapek is the new CEO, the board of directors announced on Tuesday, February 25.

Disney named the company’s head of parks and resorts, Bob Chapek, CEO effective immediately. But Mr. Iger will stay on as executive chairman, overseeing the company’s creative endeavours through the end of next year, until his contract expires on December 31, 2021.

Iger said in statement: “With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of Twenty-First Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO.”

Disney Company’s new CEO Bob Chapek most recently served as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Iger said he has the “utmost confidence” in Chapek and looks forward to “working closely with him over the next 22 months as he assumes this new role.”

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Chapek said in a statement: “I am incredibly honored and humbled to assume the role of CEO of what I truly believe is the greatest company in the world. 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.”

Iger’s announcement caught Disney employees and rival media executives off guard. His transition was inevitable, but no one expected it to happen at the time that it did.

Iger said it was the right time to step down because he needs to spend more time on the “creative side” of the company.

He said on an investor call after the announcement: “I could not do that if I had to run the company on a day to day basis.” 

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In an interview with CNBC, Iger said his succession plans were “actually a few years” in the making and that Chapek was identified “awhile ago as a likely candidate” to succeed him.

“He ran one of our most complex, one of our important businesses, global parks and resorts, for instance, during a time of great capital investment and a time of great change, and did so very well,” Iger said of Chapek.

Iger said that he would leave the company for good once his contract is up in 2021.

“I’ve been with the company for 45 years, and was in the CEO job for 15 of those years,” Iger said, “It’s been a fun run.”

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