Disney announced Wednesday that Bob Iger will continue as CEO through 2026, having extended his contract until that time. Iger returned to his former position following the Covid-19 pandemic and initially signed a two-year agreement with its board upon returning – this extension should allow enough time for “ensuring successful completion of Disney’s ongoing transformation and selecting a successor who will lead” Disney stated in its statement.
Iger made his mark as CFO before taking over as CEO in 2005. Since then, he has significantly strengthened Disney’s creative arsenal through acquisitions such as Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel superheroes and Lucasfilm (parent company of Star Wars); opening their first theme park resort in mainland China (Shanghai Disneyland); and producing hit after hit movie.
Due to these and other steps, Disney Media Networks has established itself as one of the world’s premier media companies. Their diverse portfolio includes ESPN sports network; ABC owned by them but operated separately; Disney Channel streaming service; and Disney+ service.
After his return as CEO, Iger has undertaken a dramatic corporate shakeup, including cutting 7,000 jobs and restructuring the company into three segments. Additionally, costs were cut drastically to help stabilize media businesses during an economically trying time, particularly their linear TV operations.
Disney has experienced challenges as it navigates its growth trajectory, including declining attendance at theme parks division, theatrical disappointments and an unstable pay-TV market. Furthermore, they have entered politics by filing suit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over his controversial parental rights law and facing widespread criticism regarding their position on homosexuality and other social issues.
Wall Street welcomed news of Iger’s extension, sending Disney stock up 2.4% in premarket trading. This news came only one day after Disney reported quarterly results that included an uptick due to the launch of its streaming service. Disney also reported record earnings from its Shanghai resort. Disney reported earning $1.9 billion from it during the quarter ending March 31 and saw revenue increases across its media segment with film studio gains as well as higher subscription fees for TV channels. Disney is scheduled to release full fiscal 2023 results on April 24. According to FTSE Russell website, the estimated market capitalization of the company stands at $232.8 billion and as of Wednesday’s close, shares had increased 4% this year and 27% over the past 12 months. –CNN’s Mary Kay Lund contributed significantly.