Disney CEO Robert Iger will remain in his job through March 2015 and then serve as executive chairman for another 15 months to help break in a new chief executive, the company said on Friday.
The definite end to what will be a decade-long tenure suggests the eventual promotion of one of his two closest lieutenants, either Jay Rasulo, 55, the chief financial officer, or Tom Staggs, 50, chairman of the parks division. The two veteran executives swapped jobs in late 2009 in a move that groomed both to take over one day.
Iger, 60, took the reins of The Walt Disney Co in September 2005 after the ouster of Michael Eisner following a shareholder revolt led by Roy Disney, the late nephew of the company’s founder.
A former weatherman who rose through the ranks of ABC, Iger has orchestrated some of the company’s biggest acquisitions, including the US$7.4 billion purchase of animated movie studio Pixar in 2006 and the US$4.2 billion acquisition of comic book giant Marvel in 2009.
Disney said its total shareholder return during his tenure is five times higher than that of the Standard & Poor’s 500. The stock increased 41 percent during that time.
Iger entered the Disney executive track when the house of Mickey Mouse bought Capital Cities/ABC for US$19 billion in 1995. That deal also brought pay TV juggernaut ESPN to Disney.
One of Iger’s first moves as CEO was to right relations with Steve Jobs, the just-deceased Apple Inc co-founder. Jobs worked with Iger to bring ABC shows to iTunes and ended up being Disney’s largest shareholder and go-to adviser through its purchase of Pixar. On Wednesday, Iger called Jobs “a great friend.”
Iger will also become chairman of Disney after John Pepper retires at the shareholder meeting in March next year. The board will also select an independent lead director.
Disney shares were down US$0.33, or 1 percent, to close at US$31.70 on Friday.
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