Bob Iger opens up about stepping down as Disney CEO

‘I don’t want to run the company any more’: Bob Iger opens up about stepping down as Disney CEO and says there’s ‘no rule book’ as it’s revealed he will retain creative control as chairman

Iger spoke out on the morning after his surprise resignation as Disney CEODisney executive Robert Chapek will take the reins as CEO of the companyIger will remain on as executive chairman and focus on creative inputHe says he decided to step down because he didn’t want to run the company 

Bob Iger has spoken out about why he decided to step down as the CEO of Disney a year before his contract was scheduled to end.

‘I don’t want to run the company any more,’ Iger told CNBC host David Faber in a phone call on Wednesday morning, following his surprise resignation on Tuesday evening.

Iger will assume the role of executive chairman and focus his energy on delivering creative input on Disney’s films and series, while former theme parks boss Robert Chapek will take over day-to-day management of the company.

Regarding his switch to executive chairman, a post Iger will hold at least through the end of his contract in December 2021, Iger said ‘there is no rule book’ for how these transitions go.

Bob Iger has spoken out about why he decided to step down as the CEO of Disney a year before his contract was scheduled to end

Iger told Faber that his desire to step down strengthened around Thanksgiving of 2019, and that he raised the issue with the board around that time.  

Shares of Walt Disney were trading down nearly 1 percent on Wednesday morning after the media giant’s surprise move to replace top boss Iger.

While Wall Street analysts were largely positive about the change, some were skeptical about Chapek’s qualifications.

‘Bob Chapek has less (content experience), having spent his Disney career in distribution of content and/or the physical world of parks, retail, and consumer products (ie, minimal storytelling, despite the fact that even he says that storytelling is at the center of Disney’s value proposition),’ Needham analyst Laura Martin said.

Two former employees Reuters talked to expressed surprise that Kevin Mayer, chairman of Direct-to-Consumer and International, was not named to the top job, especially after the roll-out of the Disney+ streaming service, which attracted 10 million sign-ups in its first day.

Iger and Chapek sat down for an interview following the surprise announcement on Tuesday

Iger and Chapek sat down for an interview following the surprise announcement on Tuesday

A one-day view of Disney share prices shows the stock trading down on Wednesday morning

A one-day view of Disney share prices shows the stock trading down on Wednesday morning

Most analysts, however, agreed that the move ended years of speculation on who would take over Hollywood’s most powerful studio, built up by Iger through acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox.

‘The move takes CEO succession uncertainty off the table; we expect the markets to digest this news and ultimately give Chapek the benefit of the doubt as the new CEO,’ Cowen and Company analysts wrote in a note.

To be sure, Iger is still keeping a significant role at the company. He will assume the post of executive chairman and direct the company’s ‘creative endeavors’.

‘The fact that Bob Iger believes it’s a full time job to sort out the content assets over the next 2 years implies it’s a bigger mess over at the Fox content assets than we thought,’ Martin said.

Chapek will face some immediate challenges including building on the early success of Disney+ and charting a strategy for Hulu to be profitable, Cowen analysts added. 

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