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Disney Replaces CEO Bob Chapek with Former Leader Robert Iger

Leadership Shakeup Comes Months After Disney Injected Itself Into Politics, Then Took A Nearly $2 Billion Loss

In an unexpected announcement on Nov. 20, Disney said the company is firing CEO Bob Chapek and will be replacing him with the company’s prior leader, Robert A. Iger.

The shakeup comes 11 months after Iger left Disney and weeks after a Chapek memo announced a hiring freeze and layoffs as cost-cutting measures for Disney, which had net operating losses of $1.47 billion last quarter.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board, said in a statement. “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.”

Chapek’s short tenure has been turbulent and riddled with high profile controversies, including a breach of contract lawsuit from actress Scarlett Johansson, and a recent squabble with the State of Florida over a piece of legislation.

In March, Disney came out against Florida’s HB 1557, a bill which sought to bar teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with students unless they were in fourth grade or higher.

Disney, facing pressure from left-leaning employees, issued a public statement condemning the legislation, pledged to halt political donations to officials who supported the bill, created an LGBT task force, and promised to produce more LGBT content for children.

Disney immediately faced backlash for injecting itself into politics, including from Florida state legislators who stripped the company of its self-governing authority, which allowed the company to operate as an independent government at it’s Orlando-area theme parks.

“I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO,” said Iger, who has spent more than four decades at the company, including 15 as CEO. “Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe—most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration. I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling.”

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