Disney Names Bob Chapek CEO As Bob Iger’s Successor; Iger Becomes Executive Chairman Through 2021

Jill Goldsmith and Patrick Hipes

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UPDATED with more details: Disney’s board of directors has sprung the news that it has named Bob Chapek Disney’s Chief Executive Officer effective immediately. Bob Iger, the Disney architect and until now chairman and CEO, will assume the role of Executive Chairman and direct the company’s creative endeavors, while continuing to lead the board.

After years of wondering about the succession plan for Iger, this is it. Iger will stay in his new role through the end of his contract on December 31, 2021, when he will exit. In the meantime, Chapek will handle day-to-day operations and learn the rest of the job during the transition.

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Chapek most recently served as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, and previously ran Disney’s parks and consumer products divisions. He started at Disney in 1993.

“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 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.”

During a conference call with investors this afternoon after the surprise announcement, Iger said the time was now to make the move, partly so he could focus on Disney’s growing content operations, which expanded with Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets.

Iger said the board had been working on a succession plan and that Chapek was identified early in the process.

“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,” Iger said in a release this afternoon signaling the move, which came after the market close. “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 has been chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products since the segment’s creation in 2018. Before that he was chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts since 2015, and from 2011-2015 he was president of the former Disney Consumer Products segment. He also has been President of Distribution at The Walt Disney Studios and President of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

“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,” Chapek said. “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.”

Disney stock is down about 3 points in after-hours trading this afternoon.

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