Bob Chapek, the former chairman of the Parks, Experience and Products will replace Bob Iger as CEO of Disney. Chapek has been with Disney since 1993.
Iger will immediately step down from his role as CEO and assume the role of Executive Chairman until his contract expires on December 31, 2021.
This news comes after Disney significantly mishandled the Star Wars franchise they purchased from George Lucas in 2012. The latest installment of the franchise, The Rise of Skywalker, was labelled a box office disappointment after it failed to meet Disney’s expectations.
It also comes after Disney’s First Quarter Earnings for Fiscal 2020 which saw “diluted earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations for the quarter decreased 37% to $1.17 from $1.86 in the prior-year quarter.” Not only were their earnings per share down, but Disney also reported their net income decreased from the previous year’s first quarter despite higher revenues. In December 2019 net income was $2.1 billion. In December 2018 it was $2.7 billion.
Following the announcement, CNBC reports shares of Disney dropped 2.5%.
In a press release announcing the change in leadership, Iger explained why he stepped down, “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.”
He 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.”
“Bob will be the seventh CEO in Disney’s nearly 100-year history, and he has proven himself exceptionally qualified to lead the Company into its next century. Throughout his career, Bob has led with integrity and conviction, always respecting Disney’s rich legacy while at the same time taking smart, innovative risks for the future. His success over the past 27 years reflects his visionary leadership and the strong business growth and stellar results he has consistently achieved in his roles at Parks, Consumer Products and the Studio. Under Bob’s leadership as CEO, our portfolio of great businesses and our amazing and talented people will continue to serve the Company and its shareholders well for years to come.”
Chapek issued his own 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, and to lead our exceptionally talented and dedicated cast members and employees.”
He added, “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. I share his commitment to creative excellence, technological innovation and international expansion, and I will continue to embrace these same strategic pillars going forward. Everything we have achieved thus far serves as a solid foundation for further creative storytelling, bold innovation and thoughtful risk-taking.”
Susan Arnold, the Lead Director of the Disney Board attempted to assuage fears that this was an unplanned transition detailing that the succession had been in the works for “the past several years.”
Arnold explained, “The Board has been actively engaged in succession planning for the past several years, and after consideration of internal and external candidates, we unanimously elected Bob Chapek as the next CEO of The Walt Disney Company. Mr. Chapek has shown outstanding leadership and a proven ability to deliver strong results across a wide array of businesses, and his tremendous understanding of the breadth and depth of the Company and appreciation for the special connection between Disney and its consumers makes him the perfect choice as the next CEO.”
She added, “Mr. Chapek will also benefit from the guidance of one of the world’s most esteemed and successful business leaders, Bob Iger. Over the past 15-plus years as CEO, Mr. Iger has transformed The Walt Disney Company, building on the Company’s history of great storytelling with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Twenty-First Century Fox and increasing the Company’s market capitalization fivefold. Disney has reached unparalleled financial and creative heights thanks to Mr. Iger’s strong leadership and clear strategic vision. We believe Mr. Chapek’s leadership and commitment to this strategy will ensure that the Company continues to create significant value for our shareholders in the years ahead.”
The press release details that Chapek will report to Iger and the Board of Directors.
What do you make of this sudden change to Disney’s leadership? Do you buy the official statement from Disney that this plan had been in the works for awhile? Or do you think they made the change following Iger’s recent blunders?