Disney CEO Bob Iger, 60, will remain CEO, for five more years, Disney’s board of directors announced today. In March, he will add chairman to his title as current board chairman, John Pepper, retires. In 2016, Iger, who will then be 65, himself will retire.
“For more than six years, Bob Iger has proven he has that ability at the highest level, The Board is delighted that the company has been able to secure the longer-term continuation of Bob’s unique blend of experience and leadership skills,” said Pepper in a statement. “For these reasons - continuing the strategic direction and growth of the company while ensuring a smooth transition process to the next generation of leadership - the Board has determined that Bob should assume the additional role of Chairman.”
Establishing a clear line of succession makes a lot of sense, and should settle any uncertainty that stockholders might have about what will be happening at Disney. Publicly-held companies come under a lot of scrutiny and threaten to destabilize their stock prices when they don’t make their plans clear. Succession is something that Apple only handled in January, even though it was clear that Jobs’ health wasn’t holding up. And it’s something that News Corp. should consider doing, with Rupert Murdoch’s son and heir apparent, James Murdoch, still under fire for the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp.’s London papers.
Iger has spent his entire career at ABC, which was acquired by Disney in 1985. He rose to the position of ABC chairman in 1996, and was promoted to president of Disney International in 1999. He became Disney’s CEO in 2005 when then CEO-Michael Eisner stepped down after a prolonged fight with Roy Disney, Stanley Gold, and members of the Disney board over his leadership. Part of Roy Disney’s many complaints about Disney’s management was a lack of succession plan.
Iger initially signed a contract that took him through January 2013, but the extended contract answers succession questions and allows the company to identify an appropriate successor to Iger.