Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Disney Investors Hoping Bob Iger Stays

Robert Iger has been one of the most admired executives in recent Hollywood history, transforming Walt Disney Co. into a global powerhouse.

But how much longer will he remain chief executive of the $176-billion Burbank-based juggernaut?

According to the LA Times, there is a growing expectation inside and outside Disney that Iger will stay on the job longer than planned. Nearly a year after launching a search for a new chief executive, Disney’s board could soon extend his contract, which expires in June 2018, said people close to the company who were not authorized to comment.

Iger himself has signaled a willingness to stay past his existing contract, telling analysts during a recent conference call that he’d be “open” to an extension — if the board deemed that the best course of action.

The question of Iger’s future is sure to be on shareholders’ minds when they meet in Denver on Wednesday for Disney’s annual meeting. Investors will be asked to elect 11 board members and vote on shareholder proposals centered on increasing lobbying disclosures and proxy access. Disney has urged investors to reject both, according to a regulatory filing.

The issue of Iger’s contract — and who might succeed him — has been front and center among investors, many of whom welcome the prospect of Iger’s tenure as chairman and CEO continuing beyond 2018. Others, however, express concern that Disney hasn’t named a successor to guide the media conglomerate into an increasingly uncertain digital future.

When Iger inked a two-year contract extension in 2014, it was expected to be his last. That deal appeared to give Disney’s board of directors ample time to find a successor. But a potential replacement, former Chief Operating Officer Thomas Staggs, stepped down in 2016, throwing the company’s succession plans into question.

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