The boss of Walt Disney Co is standing aside, handing the company’s top job to Disney Parks head Bob Chapek – a move that ends years of speculation about who will take over Hollywood’s most powerful studio.
However, the departing chief executive, Bob Iger, will retain a significant role at the company, taking up the role of executive chairman.
He will direct the company’s “creative endeavours” until his contract ends on December 31, 2021, Disney said on Tuesday (US time).
— Walt Disney Company (@WaltDisneyCo) February 25, 2020
Shares in Disney, which ended the day down 3.6 per cent, fell another 2.22 per cent after US markets closed.
Mr Chapek, who will be the seventh CEO in the company’s near 100-year history, has most recently been chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. He will report to Mr Iger.
In Mr Chapek’s new role, the company said he would directly oversee all of Disney’s business segments and corporate functions.
As chairman of Disney theme parks division, Mr Chapek oversaw Disney’s largest business segment, including the opening of Disney’s first theme park and resort in mainland China and the creation of the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. He joined Disney in 1993.
Mr Iger, who has been CEO since 2005, has led the company through the development and launch of its Disney+ streaming service. It launched in November 2019 to demand that exceeded company expectations.
Mr Iger built up the Disney brand through a series of acquisitions, including animation studio Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009, and Star Wars franchise owner Lucasfilm in 2012.
His biggest bet was the purchase of 21st Century Fox in 2019, a deal that was instrumental in launching Disney+.