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Walt Disney Names Bob Iger CEO, Replacing Bob Chapek

The Wall Street Journal logo The Wall Street Journal 11/21/2022 Robbie Whelan
© Jordan Strauss/Associated Press

Walt Disney Co.’s board of directors on Sunday night replaced Chief Executive Bob Chapek with Robert Iger, the company’s former chairman and CEO who left the company at the end of last year, according to a company announcement.

“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,” said Susan Arnold, chairman of Disney’s board, in a statement.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” she added.

The change comes at a tumultuous time for Disney.

Last month, the company reported weaker-than-expected fourth quarter financial results, killing the momentum built up over a strong year that saw record revenue and profits in multiple divisions, especially the one that includes theme parks. Disney’s theme park business has recovered strongly since the coronavirus pandemic shut down its venues across the world, but the division continues to subsidize widening losses in the streaming video business.

Mr. Chapek has said repeatedly that he expects the streaming business to be profitable by September 2024. In the most recent quarter, though, it lost $1.47 billion, more than twice the year-earlier loss. The company also cautioned that its profitability target would only be met if there wasn’t a significant economic downturn.

In August, activist investor Dan Loeb’s Third Point LLC said it had taken a stake in Disney stock after having liquidated its position earlier this year. Mr. Loeb sent a letter to Mr. Chapek asking for major changes to the business. He called for Disney to spin off ESPN, refresh its board and cut spending, though a month later he backed off on the demand to change control of the sports channel.

In response to Mr. Loeb’s suggestions, the company appointed Carolyn Everson, a veteran digital advertising executive, to its board, and agreed to a standstill with Third Point.

In an email to employees Sunday night, Mr. Iger said he was returning to the company.

Write to Robbie Whelan at robbie.whelan@wsj.com

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