Bob Iger returns to Disney as CEO for two years

LOS ANGELES, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Former Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) Managing Director Bob Iger returns to the media company as CEO less than a year after retiring, a surprise appointment that comes as the entertainment company strives to turn its streaming TV services into a profitable business .

Iger, who retired last year after 15 years as chief executive, has agreed to serve as CEO for an additional two years, Disney said in a statement late Sunday. He will replace Bob Chapek, who took over as CEO of Disney in February 2020.

As Chapek steered Disney through the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney disappointed investors this month with an earnings report that showed continued losses in its streaming unit that includes Disney+. Read more

“The Board of Directors has concluded that as Disney enters an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely positioned to lead the company through this pivotal time,” said Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board. Disney’s board of directors, in the press release.

In June, Disney’s board voted unanimously to extend Chapek’s contract for three years.

During Chapek’s short tenure, Disney found itself embroiled in an internal culture war after being accused of remaining silent over Florida legislation that would limit classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Iger left Disney on a high as the company waged entertainment industry battle against Netflix (NFLX.O) in the streaming wars. The economic slowdown and high interest rates have hurt Disney+ as the company braces for deep cost cuts.

“I’m an optimist, and if I’ve learned one thing from my years at Disney, it’s that even in the face of uncertainty – perhaps especially in the face of uncertainty – our employees and our Cast Members realize the impossible,” Iger said in a memo to employees seen by Reuters.

The management change surprised employees, a company source said.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Kim Coghill and Christopher Cushing and Kenneth Li and Miral Fahmy

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