Disney chairman Bob Iger denies that the spread of coronavirus in China caused his abrupt exit as CEO of the company. The former head man stepped up to talk to The New York Times in a shocking report on Sunday evening. Many people had speculated that the executive could have caught wind of the incoming economic stress caused by the coronavirus and chose to leave before the damage became as real in the United States. Iger told the paper that this wasn’t, in fact, the case. In wake of COVID-19 effectively turning the world upside down, the chairman has stepped up to help lead Disney as multiple facets of the company ground to a halt in wake of the virus.
Iger wrote in an email to the Times, “No surprises … nothing hidden … nothing different or odd to speculate about …. A crisis of this magnitude, and its impact on Disney, would necessarily result in my actively helping Bob [Chapek] and the company contend with it, particularly since I ran the company for 15 years!”
The report estimates that Disney is losing as much as $30 million or more a day. That number is staggering to be frank, but makes a lot of sense when you take into account that the three biggest branches of their business are: Studio programming, cruise ships, and theme park ticket sales. All three entertainment pursuits are out of the picture for at least another couple of months. Yesterday brought more news of employee furloughs at Walt Disney World in Florida. Some speculate that there is even more change to come in the future. That is a fate that will be shared by a lot of the entertainment landscape as the world adjusts to a world post-coronavirus.
Previously, the company announced that non-essential employees would be furloughed due to the situation. This is their statement from earlier this month:
"The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on our world with untold suffering and loss, and has required all of us to make sacrifices," the company said in a statement on April 2nd. "Over the last few weeks, mandatory decrees from government officials have shut down a majority of our businesses. Disney employees have received full pay and benefits during this time, and we’ve committed to paying them through April 18, for a total of five additional weeks of compensation."
"However, with no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses, we’re forced to make the difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time," the statement added. "The furlough process will begin on April 19, and all impacted workers will remain Disney employees through the duration of the furlough period. They will receive full healthcare benefits, plus the cost of employee and company premiums will be paid by Disney, and those enrolled in Disney Aspire will have continued access to the education program."
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Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney