In a surprise move on Sunday night, Disney announced that it had re-appointed Bob Iger as its chief executive officer, replacing Bob Chapek, effective immediately.
Iger first stepped down as CEO in February 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to shut down theme parks worldwide. After passing the helm to Chapek, he remained as executive chairman until December 2021, when he was set to step away completely.
Now, he returns full-time to the company he led for a decade-and-a-half for at least the next two years.
In its announcement, Disney said that Iger has agreed to return and serve as Disney’s CEO for two years, “with a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction of renewed growth and to work closely with the board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term.”
The Disney Board, which made the move, also thanked Bob Chapek for his time with Disney.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board. “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.”
“Mr. Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide–all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership,” she added.
Iger, in a message to Disney cast members on Sunday, said that “it is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility—and, I must admit, a bit of amazement—that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning to The Walt Disney Company as Chief Executive Officer.
“I know this company has asked so much of you during the past three years, and these times certainly remain quite challenging, but as you have heard me say before, I am an optimist, and if I learned one thing from my years at Disney, it is that even in the face of uncertainty—perhaps especially in the face of uncertainty—our employees and Cast Members achieve the impossible,” he added.