Disney CEO Bob Chapek is out of a job just a few months after he publicly battled Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the state’s new parental rights law.
Disney announced late Sunday night that Chapek was out and former CEO Bob Iger was again taking the helm, according to Yahoo Finance, which called Chapek’s departure “a shocking turn of events.”
Iger has agreed to serve as top exec for two years, as Disney unleashed a desperate bid to regain its financial footing.
In a statement, Disney said its board of directors told Iger to “set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term.”
Susan Arnold, Disney’s chairwoman of the board, said in a press release, “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.”
Chapek’s firing came just five months after he was rewarded with a new three-year contract.
As Yahoo noted, in June the board unanimously gave Chapek that contract, saying his “leadership was essential in helping the company overcome pandemic headwinds.”
Yet, Yahoo added, “his tenure has been riddled in controversy — from political battles and A-list talent problems to controversial reorganizations and the ever-looming shadow of Iger, who has spoken out against some of Chapek’s decisions.”
“Since Chapek took over as Disney CEO in late February 2020,” Yahoo reported, “Disney shares are down about 19%; the S&P 500 is up around 34% over that same period.”
In fact, on Monday Disney’s stock closed at about $98 a share — down from $155 at the beginning of the year.
The most well-known of those “political battles” Yahoo mentioned was with DeSantis over the Parental Rights in Education law.
The law prohibits school districts and classroom teachers rm implementing lesson plans based on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.
Disney remained silent during the legislative debate. But after it was enacted, Disney said it should have never passed and vowed to repeal it in the Legislature or get it overturned in court.
DeSantis and Republicans in the Legislature responded by stripping Disney of the special tax district overseeing its property. The move took away Disney’s home rule and could mean higher taxes for the company and surrounding property owners, if it takes effect next year.
Disney was also rocked by videos emerging of top executives admitting that they wanted more LGBTQ characters in children’s programming and worked that in every chance they could get.
At one point DeSantis said he opposed “special privileges” for a company that “pledged itself to attacking the parents in my state when that company has people very high up talking about injecting pansexualism into programming for young kids.”
“It’s wrong,” he added. “Walt Disney would not want that.”