2021 will mark the end of Bob Iger's prolific tenure as Disney CEO, Iger said Thursday during the investors' event that highlighted the company's coming streaming service Disney+.
"I'm expecting my contract to expire at the end of 2021. I'd say, 'This time I mean it,' but I've said that before," Iger told investors during the Q&A portion of the event. "I've been CEO since October of 2005, and as I've said many times, there's a time for everything, and that will be 2021. [That] will be the time for me to finally step down."
Iger, who was originally slated to exit his role in 2018, first extended his contract through July 2, 2019. In December 2017, Iger inked another extension through the end of 2021 contingent on the recently closed $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets.
With Disney+ acknowledged as the biggest priority of the Walt Disney Company in 2019, the time has come for the company to determine Iger's successor.
"I've been engaged with the board for quite some time in some discussion about a succession, and they've been engaged in a succession process, and we continue to feel that they will be able to identify my successor on a timely enough basis so that this company has a smooth transition," Iger said.
"I do want to say, by the way, since a lot has been said internally — and I think, probably, maybe felt now that we've shown this all to you — that what we're putting forward is an aggressive strategy, and that's very purposeful. Because we feel, obviously, that strategy is extremely important to us and we feel that if we're going to implement it, we've got to be very, very serious and be all in on it. And that's because we believe that that is the best way for this to succeed."
Iger's comments on his looming retirement followed presentations by Disney's stable of high-profile talent, including Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, The Mandalorian mastermind and The Lion King director Jon Favreau, Walt Disney Animation Studios chief creative officer Jennifer Lee, Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
"The aggressive numbers that [Disney CFO] Christine [McCarthy] laid out, both in terms of profitability and in terms of global successors, are a direct result of us being all in from the beginning. We are really committed to this," Iger said of Disney+.
"I think the array of talent that was up here on stage, and the product that they showed you, was just one example of that. But we feel that's the best path to success in a direction that is vital to the future of this company, and the value we return to shareholders."
During his time as CEO, Iger oversaw the 2006 acquisition of Pixar ($7.4 billion), the 2009 purchase of Marvel Entertainment ($4 billion), and the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm ($4.06 billion). Disney+ launches November 12.
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