In 'Disney Shocker,' an Erstwhile CEO Returns

Bob Iger back in as Bob Chapek, criticized for his leadership, is abruptly out
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2022 12:00 AM CST
In 'Shocking' Move, Disney Replaces CEO With Its Old CEO
FILE - Robert Iger arrives at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," in Los Angeles, on Dec. 16, 2019.   (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, FIle)

Bob Iger abruptly stepped down as CEO of Disney in 2020, and less than three years later, he's just as abruptly stepping back in. The board announced to employees Sunday night that Iger would return to the position effective immediately, which means Bob Chapek, who took over for Iger in what many in the industry saw as a surprise move back in 2020, is out. Deadline calls the news of Iger's return a "Disney shocker," while the Los Angeles Times goes with "Hollywood stunner." It's been less than a year since Iger officially retired; after first handing over the reins to Chapek, he served as executive chairman until the end of last year, and just said in September that retirement was "great" and he didn't miss his job. The 71-year-old has also been asked before if he'd consider stepping back into his old role, and had held firm in saying no.

On Sunday night, however, he was emailing Disney employees that he was returning to the CEO position "with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility—and, I must admit, a bit of amazement." CNBC notes that Chapek's tenure as Disney CEO was both "brief" and "tumultuous," with the erstwhile leader having been criticized for his management, and the company struggling of late. Its latest earnings report was disappointing, and just days ago Chapek announced plans for cost-cutting at Disney, including layoffs and a hiring freeze. Iger reportedly struggled to identify a successor last time he stepped down as CEO; this time around, the board announced, he will be in the lead role for two years and will "work closely with the Board in developing a successor." A source tells the Times the board felt the "heart and soul" of the company was being lost, leading to the ouster of Chapek, who had feuded with Iger for much of 2021. (More Disney stories.)

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