Disney won’t let Bob Iger go: Media’s most successful CEO is staying on through 2019

Just when he thought he was out…
Just when he thought he was out…
Image: AP Photo/Evan Agostini/Invision
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Disney chief executive Bob Iger has come through for the House of Mouse once again.

The CEO, who oversaw the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars owner Lucasfilm, will remain in his role for a year longer than expected while Disney’s board continues to search for a successor, the company announced in a filing today. His contract has been extended through July 2019.

Iger, 66, had previously planned to leave the company next summer, but said in February that he’d open to staying on if the company needed him. For those keeping score, this delays his retirement for a third time.

If Iger remains in his role for the full term, he’ll get a $5 million cash bonus, as well as a performance-based award in 2019, according to the amended deal. He’s also expected to stay on at the company as a consultant for three years after departing as CEO. He’ll receive an additional $5 million over the course of those 12 quarters.

The rest of Iger’s deal with Disney remains mostly unchanged. His salary and other compensation will be on par with 2016, when he made $43.9 million in total compensation—including a $20 million cash bonus, $2.5 million salary, stock-based awards, and other compensation—in part because of Disney’s record-breaking year at the box office, according to a 2017 filing (pdf)

The contract extension relieves some of the pressure on Disney’s board to find a replacement. But, eventually, Iger will have to step down and someone will have to fill his mighty shoes.

Disney’s market capitalization has increased from $46 billion in October 2005, when Iger became CEO, by 223% to $148 billion at the end of Disney’s 2016 fiscal year, the company said in a filing. Today, it’s around $178 billion, which makes it the most valuable media company in the US, according to FactSet.

The biggest blight on Iger’s otherwise stellar record has been ESPN, which has struggled to balance its subscriber headwinds with the rising cost of sports rights in the age of cord-cutting.

As such, industry watchers have speculated as to whether Disney will court someone from the TV world to replace him, like former DirecTV CEO Chase Carey. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, who sits on Disney’s board, has also been thrown in the ring of possible candidates, as has Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy. But there there has been no public frontrunner to succeed Iger since chief operating officer Thomas Staggs left the company last spring.

Disney’s stock price was flat on the news at around $112.24, up from $112.08, at the time of this writing.