Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger acknowledged Tuesday during a company-wide town hall that his second stint at Disney’s helm since returning a year ago has proven more difficult than foreseen.
Iger made the admission to ABC News anchor David Muir, who moderated the event in front of Disney employees, and asked if the job had been more difficult than he expected, according to multiple reports.
“I knew there would be a myriad of challenges that I would face in coming back,” Iger said, according to Variety, and the Wall Street Journal reported that the CEO continued: “I have to say there were much more than I expected.”
He added: “I won’t say it was easy, but I never doubted the decision to come back, and being back always feels good.”
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According to Variety, Iger made no major announcements during the session at the New Amsterdam Theater in New York, where he was joined by Disney Entertainment co-chairmen Dana Walden and Alan Bergman, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro and ESPN. President James Pitaro.
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The Journal reported that Iger said he planned to build the “modern version of the Walt Disney Company” over the next year, but the CEO provided few details. He also downplayed comments he made to CNBC over the summer about a possible sale of media assets.
Iger returned to the role of Disney CEO in November 2022, a position he previously held from 2005 to early 2020. Since his return, he has sought to “silence the noise” in the culture wars after his predecessor took over. moves that angered conservatives and sparked a high-profile political confrontation.
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Former CEO Bob Chapek took a public stand against a Florida bill that prohibits teachers from teaching lessons about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. This escalated into a battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who led the Republican-led state legislature to revoke Disney World’s autonomous authority in the state, sparking legal action from both sides which are in progress.
Disney has also been embroiled in a battle with activist investor Nelson Petz, who clashed with company management in January.
During the board fight with Disney that began in 2023, Peltz said in a press release that the entertainment giant had lost its way in recent years, “resulting in a rapid deterioration in its financial performance due to a constant and high dividend distribution system”. a cash flow generating business into a highly leveraged company with reduced earnings power and low free cash flow conversion.
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Disney pushed back on Peltz’s claims, arguing in a regulatory filing that he “does not understand Disney’s business and does not have the skills and experience necessary to help the board create value for shareholders in a rapidly evolving media ecosystem. The company also said the hedge fund’s analysis of its financial transactions was flawed.
According to recently released fourth-quarter financial results, Disney reported overall revenue for the three-month period of $21.24 billion and net income of $246 million.
“While we still have work to do to continue to improve our results, our progress has allowed us to move past this repair period and begin growing our business again,” Iger said during an earnings conference call. early this month.
At the time, he claimed that it was possible to achieve “sustainable” profitability by streaming company, transforming ESPN into a “preeminent digital sports platform,” making improvements to its movie studios and “fueling” the growth of its Experiences segment as four “key development opportunities.” Its parks and cruises fall under the Experiences segment.
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The entertainment giant announced earlier this month that it would cut costs by another $2 billion, raising its annual savings target to $7.5 billion.
Disney Stock have gained more than 10% this year, trailing the S&P 500’s more than 18% rise.
Eric Revell and Aislinn Murphy of FOX Business contributed to this report.