Disney CEO Bob Iger is stepping down from his role immediately after working in the position for 15 years.
The 69-year-old former CEO led the company founded by Walt Disney in the 1920s to a new era of film and television, launching Disney+, overseeing the acquisitions of Star Wars and Pixar as well as the Marvel franchise.
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A statement about Iger’s sudden departure from his position says he will transition out of the role effective immediately.
“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 said in the statement.
Iger named his successor as Bob Chapek, who previously served as a chairman of Disneys parks business, Iger said he had “the utmost confidence” in the newly appointed CEO and looked “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.”
Although Iger stepped down as CEO, he will continue to serve as an executive chairman in the company until the end of his contract on December 31.
“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,” he said. “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 as Parks, Consumer Products and the Studio,” Iger continued. “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.”
Disney’s new CEO, Chapek, released his own statement, saying he was “incredibly honored and humbled to assume the role of CEO of what I truly believe is the greatest company in the world.”
He added that he was thrilled to “lead our exceptionally talented and dedicated cast members and employees,” while saying Iger had “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,” Chapek continued. “Everything we have achieved thus far serves as a solid foundation for further creative storytelling, bold innovation and thoughtful risk-taking.”
Iger has been looking to step down from his role for a while. At a Disney investor day presentation in April 2019, he said, “I’m expecting my contract to expire at the end of 2021.”
“And I was going to say ‘and this time I mean it,’ but I’ve said it before,” he added. “I’ve been CEO since October of 2005 and as I’ve said many times, there’s a time for everything and 2021 will be the time for me to finally step down.”