Bob Chapek has been sensationally replaced with immediate effect by his predecessor as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger.
Disney’s board of directors announced the news late on Sunday night.
‘We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,’ said chairman of the board, Susan Arnold, in a statement. ‘The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.’
She added: ‘Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide—all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership.’
Iger, who received one of Queen Elizabeth II’s final honorary knighthoods in September, has previously spent more than four decades at the company, including his initial 15-year stint as CEO from 2005.
Chapek has stepped down from the position he moved into in 2020, having served before as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.
The last two years have been rocky for Chapek, who was criticised as being slow to act when it came to Disney’s eventual public denunciation of Florida’s controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.
He was also in charge while the theme parks started to implement steep price increases for tickets, upgraded the previously free queue-skipping Fastpass system to a the paid-for Genie+ and Lightning Lane model, and made visitors pre-book the park they wanted to visit each day in a reservation scheme.
Iger has agreed to a two-year return term, which he acknowledged was unexpected to Disney employees last night in his first email back, written with ‘an incredible sense of gratitude and humility – and, I must admit, a bit of amazement’.
Iger had only left the company, for what he thought was the final time, less than a year ago, after transitioning into the role of executive chairman as Chapek took the reigns as CEO.
New York native Iger, 71, previously told Variety at the end of 2021 as he left Disney that he had ‘no interest in running another company’.
‘I officially became CEO on October 1, 2005, and I really have not had a day off since. Not a day off. I’m looking forward to what I’ll call a true day off. And I’m not talking about a day on my boat where I’m answering emails all day and screening rough cuts,’ he said.
Since the news was announced, Walt Disney shares have risen sharply.
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