Bob Iger follows Chapek as new Disney C.E.O.

After being succeeded in 2020 by Bob Chapek, Mr. Iger will be returning to the company that he led for 15 years. The Walt Disney Company board fired Bob Chapek, its chief executive, on Sunday. It announced that Robert A. Iger would be returning to the company’s leadership, effective immediately.

Disney will replace Mr. Iger’s hand-picked successor as chief executives with Mr. Iger. In an email sent to employees on Sunday night, Mr. Iger stated that it was with “an incredible sense of gratitude, humility — and, I must confess, a bit more amazement — that I write you this evening to tell you the good news that I am returning.”

After Mr. Chapek (62), was found to have done irreparable harm to his leadership ability, the board awarded Mr. Iger a two-year contract. A string of missteps led to the loss of confidence in Wall Street and all senior Disney executives as well as many rank and file employees. From 2005 to 2020, Mr. Iger was Disney’s chief executive. This tenure was widely regarded as one of Hollywood’s most successful.

After serving as the executive chairman for two year to assist Mr. Chapek, Mr. Iger resigned from Disney at the end 2021. The board has given Mr. Iger two years to guide the company and find a successor.

Susan Arnold, chair of the board, released a statement saying that Bob Chapek was greatly appreciated. “The board concluded that Bob Iger, as Disney embarks upon an increasingly complex period industry transformation, is uniquely positioned to lead the company during this pivotal time.”

According to three people familiar with the matter who spoke under anonymity to discuss private conversations, Ms. Arnold called Mr. Iger Thursday to ask him to reconsider returning to the company. Recent months have seen Mr. Iger openly express his disappointment with Mr. Chapek. He told people close to him that he felt “devastated” at the direction Disney was taking and that it felt like Disney was losing its soul.

He had delayed his retirement three times from Disney and seemed reluctant to leave the company when it was finally time. However, Mr. Iger was firm in his refusal to answer any Hollywood executives who asked him recently if he would return.

After leaving Disney, Mr. Iger joined Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital as a Venture Partner; joined Genies Inc.’s board, a crypto startup that allows people create digital avatars; began work on a second book; spent time on his yacht, the Ionian Sea. It wasn’t immediately clear if he would end his relationship with Thrive Capital.


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