Thursday, 18 April 2024

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Who could be the next Disney CEO after Bob Iger?

Who could be the next Disney CEO after Bob Iger?

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Disney is gearing up for what could become a corporate succession battle, just as soon as it wraps up its proxy war with activist investor Nelson Peltz. Current CEO Bob Iger has pledged to appoint a successor to lead the company before he departs at the end of his current contract in 2026, and investors that supported Disney’s slate ahead of tomorrow’s meeting are likely to hold him to it. 

Disney’s board thought it had already answered the question who would lead the company after Iger. But the answer only received partial credit. Iger had to come back to helm the company in 2022 after his chosen successor Bob Chapek was fired by the board, which has been one of Peltz’s sticking points in his fight with Disney in recent months. For the Disney board and Iger, however it is constituted after the vote results tomorrow, hiring the right CEO and executing a transition will be an exercise institutional investors and other potential activists eyeing Disney will closely scrutinize.  

Still, the prospect of leading one of the world’s most influential entertainment companies, not to mention one its most famous brands is a tantalizing prospect for any ambitious executive.

A few of Disney’s most senior executives are expected to be in the running, according to CNBC. The candidates, according to CNBC, include longtime ESPN head Jimmy Pitaro, Dana Walden, who joined the company in the 2019 Fox megadeal, her entertainment division co-chair Alan Bergman, and the chair of Disney’s parks business, Josh D’Amaro. An external candidate isn’t impossible but seems unlikely given Disney’s bench of executive talent and its well-established company culture, which would make the transition cumbersome for a newcomer. 

Plus, hiring an external candidate could also give more ammunition to Disney and Iger’s main critics. Peltz has been relentless in critiquing the Disney board’s succession plans, contending it failed last time around with Chapek in 2020. Chapek, who used to run Disney’s amusement parks division, suffered a number of missteps during his tenure, most notably being unable to gel with the Hollywood creative community. That forced Iger back onto the scene in 2022. 

Disney did not respond to a request for comment. 

With only about a year and a half until Iger leaves, the board’s succession planning has picked up in earnest. Disney appointed a special succession planning committee of several highly experienced board…

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