Bob Iger steps down as Disney CEO, takes on new role

Bob Chapek will become Walt Disney Co. CEO

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Long-time Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger will step down and take on a new role in Disney’s creative endeavors, the entertainment and theme park company announced Tuesday.

Disney’s board appointed Bob Chapek as Iger’s replacement.

Iger will become the executive chairman directing the company’s creative endeavors, “while leading the board and providing the full benefit of his experience, leadership and guidance to ensure a smooth and successful transition through the end of his contract,” Disney said in a news release.

Iger will remain executive chairman through the end of his contract Dec. 31, 2021.

Iger said in a statement he felt this was the right time for a transition at Disney. He has been part of the Disney senior management team since 1996, according to his biography.

“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,” Iger said. “I have the utmost confidence in Bob (Chapek) 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.”

Iger became chief executive of the home of Mickey Mouse in 2005 after a shareholder revolt by Roy E. Disney led to the ouster of longtime chief Michael Eisner. Iger steered Disney through successful acquisitions of Lucasfilms, Marvel, Pixar and other brands that became big moneymakers for Disney.

He was the No. 2 highest paid CEO in 2018, as calculated by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm. He earned $65.6 million. The top earner was Discovery's David Zaslav who earned $129.5 million.

Susan Arnold, the independent lead director of the Disney board said succession planning had been ongoing for several years.

Since 2018, Chapek served as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products and previously was chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

“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," Chapek said. "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.”

Chapek is only the seventh CEO in Disney history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.