Former Disney chief executive Bob Chapek was reportedly ousted following actions by the company’s chief financial officer, who believed he was “incompetent.”
In a new report, The Wall Street Journal said that, after a boardroom clash with Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy, a fight with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the loss of billions of dollars in Disney’s streaming division, the leader lost the support of fans, executives and the company’s board alike.
According to the publication, former Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger “undermined his successor,” and it was “well established” that he was “unhappy with Chapek,” the report said, adding that he told confidantes that Chapek was “doing a terrible job and that he was incompetent.”
While Iger had departed Disney last year after over a decade there, the paper said that a Nov. 16 phone call from McCarthy, who was “fed up with Mr. Chapek’s performance and leadership,” proved instrumental in putting Iger back on top.
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Two days later, according to The Wall Street Journal, Board Chair Susan Arnold offered him the job.
“This account of how Mr. Iger succeeded his successor is based on firsthand accounts of current and former Disney executives, as well as people close to the company who are familiar with the events, actions and conversations leading to Mr. Chapek’s ouster,” it said.
Reporting from The New York Times detailed the phone call from Arnold to Iger, citing three people with knowledge of the matter, and the Financial Times said in November that McCarthy had approached the board to complain about Chapek’s leadership.
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In June, the board renewed Chapek’s contract through 2024 in a unanimous vote, but at the end of September The Wall Street Journal’s report said that McCarthy told directors that Disney would likely “miss analyst expectations for revenue and profit in the coming quarter” and Chapek purportedly complained to colleagues that McCarthy had given numbers that weren’t previously discussed,” leaving her out of an October board meeting.
On Nov. 11, he had issued a memo freezing new hires.
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After two years on the job, during one of the most challenging periods in company history, the report said that Chapek was out on Nov. 20 that and Iger – who had selected Chapek as his successor – was back in.
“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,” board Chair Susan Arnold said in a statement.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” she said.
“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 in an email to employees.
He would earn a base salary of $1 million, returning for two years.
“Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe – most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration,” the reinstated CEO said in a statement release by the company. “I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling.”
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Iger signaled that the company would begin to implement organizational and operational changes.
“It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are,” he later told employees.
FOX Business’ request for comment from Disney was not immediately returned as of the time of publication.
FOX Business’ Eric Revell, Peter Aitken and The Associated Press contributed to this report.