Disney’s decision to bring back Bob Iger might have been the right one for the company, but the wrong one for Iger, as the veteran CEO made it clear this week that he has no interest in staying at Disney.
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Every week’s a busy week at The Walt Disney Company, but this week was one of the busiest this year. On Monday, Florida lawmakers discussed the fate of Disney World’s Reedy Creek District during a special session and attempted to decide whether a state takeover is the answer for the special district. They filed House bill 9B, which would, rather than dissolve the district completely, allow for the state of Florida to rename the district and give Gov. Ron DeSantis exclusive control in choosing people to serve on the board for Disney’s special district.
Then on Wednesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger hosted the first quarterly earnings call for The Walt Disney Company since returning to the post in November 2022 and replacing CEO Bob Chapek. Disney’s revenue exceeded Wall Street’s predictions–thanks in huge part to the Disney Parks–and the Disney CEO announced the return of dividends to each Disney shareholder.
But it wasn’t enough for Disney’s liking, and Iger shared the company’s immediate plans for a restructuring, as well as planned layoffs of 7,000 Disney employees, in an effort to stop a $5.5 billion bleed at the House of Mouse.
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Then on Thursday, during an interview with David Faber on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street, Iger talked about why he accepted the offer to return to Disney as chief executive officer in November.
Iger on CNBC this morning says his plan is to stay at Disney for two years:
“Well, my plan is to stay here for two years, that’s what my contract says, that was my agreement with the board, and that is my preference." pic.twitter.com/FZrqRLE9dr
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) February 9, 2023
“I wanted to help [Disney] not only transform the company during a pretty critical time, but I wanted to help them succeed at succession, which is quite important to me, too,” Iger explained.
Faber responded, saying, “I’ve talked to a number of executives in the business who think two years isn’t enough time for you to do that.” He went on to say that others in the business predict that Iger will hold down the fort at Disney for closer to five years, and even if not for five years, they believe he’ll stay longer than his two-year contract, especially in light of the massive changes announced on Wednesday for The Walt Disney Company.
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“Well, my plan is to stay here for two years,” Iger said. “That’s what my contract says; that was the agreement with the board. That would be my preference as well.”
When CNBC’s Faber pressed Iger for an answer about why two years is his preference, Iger gave him a solid answer:
“Well, look, I’m going to be 72 years old tomorrow, I’ve put in almost 50 years. There are other things in life that I’d like to do. I also am confident that the board will be able to identify an able successor, and I’d love to have an opportunity to help that person be successful. And right now, it would be premature to even speculate. There are no plans right now for me to stay any longer.”
Iger also had a response for those who think two years isn’t enough time to reach his goals for The Walt Disney Company:
“As it relates to two years in the sense that maybe that’s too short a period of time, you can get things done very quickly. You obviously have to know what you want to do and show incredible resolve in terms of accomplishing those things and, you know, get buy-in from key people. And I think we’ve already demonstrated in what has been just over two months since I came back that you can make a lot of changes very quickly.”
Iger continued his explanation, saying that he’s working to “set [Disney] up for long-term success and what happens thereafter” and says that his goal “in talking about a transformation is to set it on the right course for what could be many years–years beyond my tenure.”
Iger says that’s his goal–and by his own admission, he only wants to stay with the company for his contracted two years.