The Walt Disney Company announced on Sunday that former CEO Robert Iger is returning to the helm of The Walt Disney Company for two years, succeeding Bob Chapek, who has stepped down from the position.
Susan Arnold, Disney’s Chairman of the Board, thanked Chapek for his leadership during the two years he served as CEO and for leading the company through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Arnold said in a statement. “The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.”
During his 15 years as CEO, from 2005 to 2020, Iger, 71, guided the entertainment juggernaut through a period of expansive industry growth, absorbing major companies like Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and 21st Century Fox. In addition, Iger was responsible for rolling out the company’s Disney+ streaming service, which launched in November 2019.
Iger stated in the announcement that he was “extremely optimistic” about the company’s future, thrilled to return as CEO, and excited to implement Disney’s strategic vision focused on creative excellence, technological innovation, and international growth.
“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,” Iger said in the news statement.
Iger will serve as CEO under “a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term,” the news release read.
Despite his previous experience as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Chapek’s two-year tenure as CEO was marred by several controversies, including salary disputes with various Hollywood actors, conflict over LBGTQ legislation in Florida, and disappointing fourth-quarter financial results.
In the post-pandemic environment, Disney investors have yet to see any substantial streaming growth, theme park profits, or positive forward-looking projections. Since January, Disney’s stock has fallen from a high of $160.32 to a low of $86.24, a nearly 50% decrease in value.
Following the unexpected news of Iger’s return, Disney’s stock shot up by more than 6% on Monday.