The man who acquired Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar as Disney’s CEO may not be done just yet

Bob Iger is open to sticking around.
Bob Iger is open to sticking around.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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Disney CEO Bob Iger, who oversaw the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, is open to staying at the media behemoth a little longer. The chief executive, who has already delayed his retirement twice, had planned to exit the company in 2018.

Iger said on a conference call today that he’ll do what’s in the company’s best interest, even if it means remaining in his role for longer than expected. He added that there are no specific plans to announce regarding his succession. Here were his full remarks on the matter:

When I targeted 2018 as the year that I was going to leave the company, it was a very personal decision. But I think as you know, I have been with this company for 43 years and I’ve actually been CEO for almost a dozen years. And I’m going to do what’s in the best interest of this company, which is something the board is clearly going to help determine. While I am confident that my successor is going to be chosen on a timely basis and chosen well, if it’s in the best interest of the company for me to extend my term, I’m open to that. There’s nothing specific to announce at this point. We have a good strong succession process underway, the board is engaged in this, as I’ve said before, on a regular basis, and the absence of any announcements or specifics about it should in no way indicate otherwise.

Iger has been CEO of Disney since October 2005. The company acquired animation studio Pixar under his watch in 2006. (Pixar owner Steve Jobs’s relationship with previous Disney CEO Michael Eisner was strained, but Iger and Jobs got on very well.)

And he led the acquisition of Marvel in 2009—the comic book company whose run of superhero films have dominated blockbuster movies for almost a decade—and then its biggest coup of all, the acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, giving it control of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films.

These entertainment properties have come to define Disney’s record-breaking film slate over the last decade and been infused throughout the company’s theme parks, consumers products, and media networks. Disney has released two Star Wars films since it bought the property—and neither has done too badly.

Iger was reportedly first due to step down as CEO in 2015, based on a contract that he signed with Disney in 2011. But his retirement was delayed until June 2016, and then postponed to 2018. The company has been hunting for a successor, but there has been no public frontrunner to replace him since former chief operating officer Thomas Staggs departed last spring.

Iger’s comment on the call was in response to a question about a Wall Street Journal article (paywall) from Feb. 6 that said Iger may extend his contract, citing anonymous sources.