Disney CEO Iger Says He Won’t Rule Out Naming a PresidentChristopher Palmeri
Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said he won’t rule out the appointment of a president or chief operating officer, positions he held before ascending to the top job.
“Right now, I’m comfortable with the way the company is structured,” Iger, 63, told Bloomberg Television yesterday when asked about those posts. “But we don’t rule that out.”
The president’s role at Burbank, California-based Disney has been a stepping stone to CEO in the past. Iger, who is scheduled to retire at the end of June 2016, served as Disney’s president and COO from 2000 until becoming CEO-designate in March 2005 and taking over six months later.
Shareholders approved changes to Disney’s compensation plan last year to allow for additional executive positions, such as a president or COO. Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo, often cited by analysts as one candidate to succeed Iger, has a contract that expires Jan. 31, according to filings. He switched roles with Parks Chairman Thomas Staggs, viewed as another potential heir, more than four years ago.
A Disney spokeswoman had no comment.
The job of president at Disney is considered such a valuable one that Jeffrey Katzenberg left in 1994 after he wasn’t given the post following the death of Frank Wells, second-in-command to then Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner. Katzenberg went on to co-found DreamWorks.
Iger’s tenure has been marked by a series of high-profile acquisitions including Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. The company will release its first “Star Wars” film in December 2015. Its newest park in Shanghai is set to open around the same time.
A Disney veteran of almost 25 years, Staggs took over the parks division after serving for more than a decade as CFO. The company broke ground on the Shanghai project 15 months after his appointment.
Staggs, 53, has overseen expansion at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, including the introduction of the MyMagic+ technology that’s designed to cut wait times for attractions and make it faster and easier for guests to spend money.
The 58-year-old Rasulo led an efficiency drive in fiscal 2013 to reduce overhead and is overseeing a similar push this year, Disney said in its proxy statement.
The company has more than doubled its annual dividend during Rasulo’s tenure, while financing capital spending and earmarking as much as $8 billion for stock repurchases.
Disney’s shares fell 0.2 percent to $86.59 at the close in New York today, giving them a gain this year of 13 percent.