Former Disney CEO Bob Iger is returning to head the entertainment giant, replacing his successor Bob Chapek.
The surprise news comes days after Disney’s stock hit a 52-week low, falling 41 percent so far this year.
In a press release Sunday, Disney announced Chapek was stepping down and Iger will serve two additional years as the company’s top executive.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Susan Arnold, the company’s board chair, said in a statement.
Arnold added that Iger, who led Disney for 15 years before stepping down in 2020, has the “deep respect” of Disney employees and is “admired” by the company, which will help them navigate new challenges.
“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,” Arnold said.
Iger oversaw Disney through the acquisitions of Pixar, 21st Century Fox and Marvel and the opening of the company’s first theme park in China.
He continued to serve as executive chairman and chairman of the Board until the end of 2021.
In a statement on Sunday, Iger said he was “optimistic for the future of this great company.”
“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,” Iger said.
Chapek, who joined Disney in 1993, was appointed as CEO in 2020. He was previously chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences and products.