Robert Iger replaces Bob Chapek as Disney CEO

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Disney has reappointed Robert Iger as CEO for the next two years, ousting Bob Chapek, following a two-year tenure in which Chapek faced controversy including a feud with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) over LGBTQ debates in Florida’s schools.

Iger was chief executive of The Walt Disney Company. for 15 years before he passed the reins to Chapek in 2020. He left the company after serving as executive chairman last December. Iger will serve with a mandate from the board to select a successor, the company said in a news release.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Susan Arnold, chairman of the Disney board said. “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.”

The decision to reinstate Iger comes just days after Chapek reportedly outlined plans in an internal memo for a hiring freeze, layoffs and cost cuts following disappointing quarterly results, according to Reuters.

Disney missed Wall Street expectations as it recorded losses from its push into streaming video. It produces series such as the Star Wars spinoffs “The Mandalorian,” “Andor” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Still, Sunday’s late-night announcement came as a surprise: Disney’s board voted only in June to extend his contract for three years.

During Chapek’s short tenure, Disney became embroiled in an internal culture war as its missteps over LGBTQ discussions in Florida’s schools sparked fury from Disney’s LGBTQ employees.

DeSantis, meanwhile, used that turmoil as a launchpad for his boldest confrontation yet with corporate America, spearheading a successful push to strip Disney of a decades-old tax district, criticizing the company on Fox. News and fundraising off the clash, The Washington Post reported previously.

Disney noted Sunday that during his previous tenure, Iger oversaw the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox, and increased the company’s market capitalization fivefold.

He left at a high point for Disney in the streaming wars against its top rivals, Netflix and Warner Bros. Pictures. More recently, Disney has struggled to match earlier subscriber growth amid the economic slowdown.

Iger said in the news release that he was “extremely optimistic about the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the board to return as its CEO.”

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