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Disney has extended Bob Iger’s contract until the end of 2026, prolonging what was meant to be a short-term stay for the chief executive after he returned to the world’s largest entertainment company last November.
On returning to the company, Iger had been charged with finding a new successor before the end of 2024, but Disney said on Wednesday that its independent directors had voted unanimously to extend his term by two years.
Iger’s first stint as CEO started in 2005 and lasted for 15 years. It was marked by transformative acquisitions and industry-leading growth but also by the exits of several executives who had been identified as possible successors. Bob Chapek, the former theme parks chief ultimately picked to succeed him, lasted only 33 months in a rocky tenure marked by accusations that Iger had undermined him.
His new contract includes the opportunity to earn five times his base salary in annual bonuses, up from one times salary previously.
“Iger’s extension provides continuity of leadership during the company’s ongoing transformation, and allows more time to execute a transition plan for CEO succession,” Disney said in a statement.
“I believe Disney’s long-term future is incredibly bright, but there is more to accomplish before this transformative work is complete,” Iger said, adding that he wanted to ensure the company was strongly positioned when his eventual successor took over. The board was still evaluating both internal and external candidates, he said, adding: “I remain intensely focused on a successful transition.”
The decision comes as Disney is weathering challenges on several fronts. The company has come under fire from Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, and other Republicans for its support for LGBTQ causes. Its studios’ creative record is in question after Pixar’s Elemental flopped at the box office last month, and its sports network ESPN and other brands are contending with falling cable television revenues.
Like many of its rivals, Disney is also contending with a writers’ strike in Hollywood, the rising costs of sports rights and the need to improve the profitability of its streaming service, Disney+, which has required heavy investment since its launch at the end of Iger’s first tenure.
In his first term as CEO, Iger bought Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, giving Disney some of the most valuable franchises in Hollywood history and a growth story that was the envy of its rivals.
Doug Creutz, an analyst with TD Cowen, said that extending Iger’s contract “likely takes a bit of an overhang off the stock, given that Iger is now over halfway through his original two-year tenure, but it also reinforces the notion that the company continues to have serious succession planning issues”.
Disney is also been hunting for a new chief financial officer. Christine McCarthy left last month for a family medical leave of absence.
Mark Parker, Disney’s chair, said: “Time and again, Bob has shown an unparalleled ability to successfully transform Disney to drive future growth and financial returns.”
Shares in Disney were 0.8 per cent higher in after-hours trading following the announcement, valuing the group at about $165bn.