The Walt Disney Company chief executive, Bob Iger, resigns with immediate effect after 15 years. Disney manager Bob Chapek, who was most recently responsible for the amusement park division, was appointed as the successor. The company announced on Tuesday after the market closed. Many investors and analysts were therefore surprised by the news. Chapek's successor is also surprising.
After the start of the Disney + streaming service, he believed that now was the ideal time to hand over the office to a new CEO, said Iger. Chapek has been with Disney for 27 years, and has been responsible for the thriving business of theme parks and resorts for the past five years. "Bob will be the seventh chief executive in Disney's nearly 100-year history, and he has proven himself exceptionally qualified to lead the company into the next century," said Iger.
Iger's resignation comes abruptly and unexpectedly, even if he has been considering retiring for a long time and there have been speculations for years about who could replace him. The 69-year-old was at the top of the group for around 15 years; he had taken over from Michael Eisner in 2005. Iger shaped the entertainment group with the takeover of studios such as Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm as well as large parts of the competitor 21st Century Fox. He will remain Disney's executive director until the end of 2021.
Disney stock drops more than four percent
On Wall Street, however, the sudden change of leadership caused astonishment, also because Disney did not present a successor to Chapek's position. "It's a huge surprise," said Laura Martin of the investment company Needham & Co on Bloomberg TV. Most listed companies try to prepare the markets gently for important personnel changes. The surprising announcement of Disney, after all, the world's largest entertainment group with a market value of over $ 230 billion, upset investors. The share temporarily fell over four percent after the exchange.
In addition, the Chapek staff also causes astonishment. The 60-year-old has been with the company for almost 30 years, but actually everything in the entertainment business has long been about streaming and not so much about theme parks. Many had therefore assumed Kevin Mayer as the successor. He directs Disney's streaming services, has been with the company for more than two decades, and was often traded as Prince Igers. It is all the more surprising that the choice did not fall on him, since Disney's attack in the streaming market has only just begun.
Succession with risks
Iger's last major project as CEO was the Disney + streaming service, which premiered in the United States on November 12. With the offer, Disney responded to the competition from Netflix, which has won over many customers from the classic TV and film industry in recent years. The launch of Disney + was a success, with the streaming service reaching almost 29 million customers in less than three months thanks to low prices and popular productions such as the Star Wars series The Mandalorian . In Germany, the new service should start on March 24th.
Chapek also expect large construction sites. The streaming offensive poses high risks and devours a lot of money, which caused a slump in profits in the most recent quarter. In the three months to the end of December, net income from continuing operations fell 23 percent year-over-year to $ 2.1 billion. Meanwhile, sales increased by a good third to $ 20.9 billion. The real problem child of the group, however, is the troubled sports broadcaster ESPN, which is suffering from falling subscriptions and advertising revenue, but still generates a large part of the proceeds.