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Iger to forge renewed growth at Disney

- Brett Molina

The Walt Disney Co. dropped a major plot twist. ● The media giant announced late Sunday former CEO Bob Iger would return to the helm, replacing Bob Chapek, who took over the top executive spot more than two years ago. ● Iger will serve as Disney’s CEO for two years, during which he will create a “strategic direction for renewed growth” and work to find his successor following his second stint running the company. Here’s what you should know:

Who is Chapek?

Chapek was named CEO in February 2020. He has been with Disney for nearly three decades, previously serving as chairman of Disney Parks, Experience­s and Products before replacing Iger.

Chapek also served as chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, during which he helped open the Shanghai Disney Resort; and introduced Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.

Chapek was the seventh CEO in Disney’s 100- plus year history.

Who is Iger?

Iger has been with Disney for more than 45 years, becoming CEO in 2005 and then chairman in 2012.

Iger’s first run as CEO is legendary for Disney. During the 15- year period, he helped close deals to acquire Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm ( owners of Star Wars) and 21st Century Fox, which returned the film rights of the X- Men to Marvel.

Those acquisitio­ns helped Disney’s streaming service Disney+ flourish as

“I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generation­s through unrivaled, bold storytelli­ng.” Bob Iger, in a statement

one of the top streaming media platforms. After relinquish­ing the CEO role to Chapek, Iger stayed on as chairman until December 2021.

“Mr. Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide – all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership,” said Disney board chairman Susan Arnold in a statement.

Why is Chapek out?

Chapek took over right before the start of the COVID- 19 pandemic. While it benefited Disney+, as many people stayed home and streamed movies or TV shows, the pandemic also closed down Disney parks for an extended period.

Although Disney+ has made significan­t subscriber gains, it’s losing money. Last quarter, Disney’s direct- toconsumer business, which includes Disney+, incurred operating losses near $ 1.5 billion.

Price changes for Disney+ will take effect next month. The standard plan will go up to $ 10.99, along with the introducti­on of a new, lower- cost tier with ads.

“Amidst an incredibly competitiv­e streaming market for users’ attention and dollars, Iger’s top challenge will be to increase subscriber value without breaking the bank and compromisi­ng content quality,” said Mike Proulx, vice president and research director for Forrester.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, Disney was involved in a political feud with Florida over the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would limit instructio­n on gender identity and sexual orientatio­n in grades K- 3.

Chapek issued a statement against the bill after some employees and shareholde­rs criticized him for staying silent.

“Speaking to you, reading your messages and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was,” Chapek said earlier this year. “It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights.”

Chapek also fired Peter Rice, the chairman of Disney General Entertainm­ent Television, among the most highly regarded television executives in the industry.

Disney shares have plunged this year from a peak of $ 157.83 in January to $ 91.80 as of Friday’s close, a 42% drop.

Disney stock

Investors appear thrilled at Iger’s return. Shares rose more than 6% in early afternoon trading on Monday, topping $ 97.

“We believe there is little doubt that investors will applaud this move,” wrote Citi analyst Jason Bazinet. “The Street likes Mr. Iger almost as much as we do. We view his return as an unalloyed positive.”

Disney stocks had been on track for their worst yearly performanc­e since at least the 1970s, according to Bloomberg.

 ?? ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ/ GETTY IMAGES ?? Bob Iger and Mickey Mouse attend Mickey’s 90th Spectacula­r on Oct. 6, 2018, in Los Angeles.
ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ/ GETTY IMAGES Bob Iger and Mickey Mouse attend Mickey’s 90th Spectacula­r on Oct. 6, 2018, in Los Angeles.
 ?? ?? Chapek

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