Disney CEO Bob Chapek And Bob Iger

Previous Disney CEO Bob Iger To Replace Current CEO Bob Chapek

In an utterly surprising turn of affairs, Disney has brought previous CEO Bob Iger out of retirement as studio lead and back into the field. The long-serving veteran will be returning to replace current head Bob Chapek, who took over the reins in 2020.

Bob Chapek

The announcement comes after Chapek had just signed a multi-year contract in June this year, with the board of directors making the decision on Sunday night (Monday morning for those in the Asian region).

“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, in a statement. “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.”

However, the House of Mouse is quick to highlight that Iger’s renewed term will be a temporary one. The man, who acknowledged in an email to employees that he is returning “with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility — and, I must admit, a bit of amazement,” has agreed to serve as head for two years. Under this agreement, he’ll have to set the strategic direction for revitalised growth and work closely with the board to develop a successor upon completion of his term.

Iger had previously led the company for 15 years and went on to serve as executive chairman after stepping down, but left that position 11 months ago. Since the takeover, Chapek’s tenure hasn’t been the smoothest — while streaming did grow, he has made a couple of misfires that included a lack of response to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and an aggressive campaign against Marvel star Scarlett Johansson, which resulted in a settlement over pay for Black Widow.

Bob Iger

While a surprise, the change in leadership certainly makes sense. Iger’s intuitive business acumen saw Disney’s market cap rising from around US$55 billion when he took over in 2005 to US$260 billion in January 2020. In comparison, it stood at US$167 billion as of Friday.

Much of the company’s growth over the years can be attributed to Iger’s decision to acquire Pixar (2006), Marvel (2009), and Lucasfilm (2012), which led the company to pass US$10 billion in global box office sales in 2019. The same year, it also closed a whopping US$71.3 billion acquisition of Fox.

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