Less than a year after he retired Bob Iger is back as Walt Disney CEO, the entertainment giant said in a statement late on Sunday.
The surprising comeback at Hollywood’s biggest company comes as Disney is trying to boost investor confidence after its streaming media unit lost $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter.
Iger was Disney’s chief executive for 15 years and agreed to serve as CEO and replace Bob Chapek, the company said. Chapek took over as Disney CEO in February 2020 just as the Covid pandemic forced park restrictions and closed theaters.
Iger helped build Disney into the largest company in the industry after acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox. He also is credited to increase the company’s market capitalization fivefold during his time as CEO.
“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,” Chairwoman Susan Arnold said in the statement.
Disney stock rose about 8% on Monday morning as of Friday’s close. The company’s shares had lost about 36% so far this year.
Chapek has faced increasing criticism over the company’s performance in recent months. Disney’s recent quarterly earnings disappointed investors, sending the company’s shares down.
The move took by surprise the industry after the company’s board unanimously voted to extend Chapek’s contract as CEO for another three years in June. The contract began in July and was set to run until 2025.