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Disney CEO Bob Iger steps down; Bob Chapek named new head

Disney CEO Bob Iger attends the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on Feb. 9, 2020, in Hollywood. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

NEW YORK (AP) — Disney CEO Bob Iger, who steered the company through successful purchases of Star Wars, Marvel and Fox’s entertainment businesses, is stepping down immediately, the company said in a surprise announcement Tuesday.

The Walt Disney Co. named as his replacement Bob Chapek, most recently chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

Iger will remain executive chairman through the end of his contract Dec. 31, 2021.

Iger said it was an “optimal time” for him to step down following Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets and the launch of Disney Plus streaming service in November.

“Did not see this coming — Wowza,” tweeted LightShed media analyst Rich Greenfield.

became chief executive of the home of Mickey Mouse in 2005 after a
shareholder revolt by Roy E. Disney led to the ouster of longtime chief
Michael Eisner. Iger steered Disney through successful acquisitions of
Lucasfilms, Marvel, Pixar and other brands that became big moneymakers
for Disney.

He was the No. 2 highest paid CEO in 2018, as
calculated by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm.
He earned $65.6 million. The top earner was Discovery’s David Zaslav who
earned $129.5 million.

Susan Arnold, the independent lead director of the Disney board said succession planning had been ongoing for several years.

Chapek is only the seventh CEO in Disney history.

was head of the parks, experiences and products division since it was
created in 2018. Before that he was chairman of Walt Disney Parks and
Resorts since 2015. Before that, he was president of the Disney Consumer
Products segment from 2011 to 2015.