© Reuters. Disney (DIS) gains as Bob Iger returns to replace Bob Chapek as CEO, analysts positively surprised
By Senad Karaahmetovic
Shares of Walt Disney (NYSE:) are trading higher in pre-open Monday after Disney announced that CEO Bob Chapek has stepped down from his role.
Chapek will be replaced by Bob Iger, who returns to lead the entertainment company in a surprise move. Iger spent over four decades at Disney, including 15 years as its CEO (2005-2020). He agreed to serve as CEO for two years.
“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,” Iger wrote to employees in an email, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Iger has been tasked by the Board to “set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term.”
Chapek was appointed as Disney CEO in February 2020 to succeed Iger. He came under fire on several occasions, including after the most recent disappointing earnings report. The CEO transition comes after Chapek was planning to cut costs. Chapek was picked by Iger to replace him as the new CEO.
For Wells Fargo analysts, the announcement is “a positive surprise.”
“While Chapek’s departure is not a surprise due to recent turmoil and the stock’s decline, Iger’s resurgence is a positive surprise. Iger will be viewed as a catalyst to improve the content aspects of DIS, and we expect bigger potential strategic changes around the long-term shape of DTC. While the announcement doesn’t solve all of DIS’s problems, we think investors will embrace it as it puts perhaps the best leader in Media at the helm with a mandate to shake things up,” they said in a client note.
Goldman Sachs analysts also weighed in positively on the CEO change.
“On net, we expect investors to react positively to this announcement, in light of Mr. Iger’s prior successful 15 year tenure as CEO from 2005 to 2020. However, the sudden and unexpected departure of Mr. Chapek, whose contract was recently renewed, coincides with Disney confronting more significant operating challenges,” the analysts wrote.
The WSJ reported that activist investor, Trian Fund Management invested over $800 million in Disney stock after the recent pullback in shares. The report adds that the hedge fund is likely to increase its stake in the entertainment company.
Trian is also pushing to gain a seat on Disney’s board and was against the reappointment of Iger.