(Adds Iger, analyst comments)
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES, March 23 Walt Disney Co's board
extended the term of Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer Bob Iger by one year as it continues searching for a
successor to a long-serving leader who is popular on Wall
Street, the company said on Thursday.
The extension, until July 2, 2019, is a third for the
66-year-old Iger, who said last month he was open to extending
his term. Originally, Iger had said he would retire in April
2015, but he then agreed to stay through June 2016 and then
later to remain until June 2018.
Disney shares closed 0.1 percent higher at $112.24 on the
New York Stock Exchange.
Disney, the world's largest entertainment company and owner
of sports network ESPN, a movie studio and theme parks around
the world, is still searching for a capable hand to step into
Speaking on Thursday at a technology and entertainment
conference, Iger said he and the board agreed "we could use more
time to not only spend on succession but to create a better
"I feel great about it, but I'm serious this time around ...
I promise," he said in an interview conducted by his wife,
journalist Willow Bay. She is the incoming dean of the
University of Southern California's Annenberg School of
Communication and Journalism, which co-hosted the event with
USC's Marshall School of Business.
Iger will remain a consultant to Disney for three years
after his chairman and CEO term ends.
Orin Smith, independent lead director of Disney's board,
said the company and shareholders "will be best served by
(Iger's) continued leadership as the board conducts the robust
process of identifying a successor and ensuring a smooth
Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz, who rates Disney
"market perform," said the news was "largely neutral" for the
stock given the relatively short extension and because no
successor was named.
Iger, who became Disney's CEO in 2005, orchestrated
successful acquisitions of Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel
Studios and "Star Wars" producer Lucasfilm. He also oversaw the
building of Shanghai Disney Resort in China and expansions at
Disney's U.S. theme parks.
Investors have seen a total shareholder return during Iger's
tenure of 448 percent, compared with 144 percent for the S&P 500
during that time, Smith said.
However, Disney has recently faced questions about the
future of ESPN, which has lost subscribers as younger viewers
move away from traditional pay television packages.
Disney's former chief operating officer Tom Staggs had been
seen as the likely replacement for Iger, but he unexpectedly
left the company in 2016.
In a regulatory filing, Disney said Iger's annual
compensation for the extended employment period remained
unchanged. He will receive a $5 million bonus for staying an
extra year. bit.ly/2mwc3Jn
(Additional reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru;
Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler)