The Walt Disney Co. said it has named CEO Bob Chapek to its board of directors, just weeks after being selected for the top spot and amid reports that executive chairman and chairman of the board Bob Iger has taken a greater day-to-day role in the company.
Disney named Chapek CEO in February, succeeding Iger who will remain executive chairman of Disney through December 2021. Chapek had most recently been in charge of Disney Theme Parks, and is a 27-year veteran of the company.
"Bob Chapek has demonstrated remarkable leadership in the face of unprecedented challenges that were unimaginable when he became CEO just seven weeks ago, and we’ve watched him navigate this very complex situation with decisiveness and compassion,” the board’s independent lead director Susan Arnold and Iger said in a press release. "We are pleased to add Bob to the board, as we stated we would when he was named CEO.”
Disney has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and has said it will furlough “non-essential” workers, most likely in its theme parks that have been closed since March and its retail operations, beginning on April 19. Company executives, including Iger and Chapek, also have taken pay cuts to ease the financial burden.
Chapek’s appointment also comes less than a week after an April 12 story in the New York Times said that Iger has reasserted control, which the chairman appeared to confirm in an e-mail message to the paper.
“A crisis of this magnitude, and its impact on Disney, would necessarily result in my actively helping Bob [Chapek] and the company contend with it, particularly since I ran the company for 15 years!” Iger told the Times in an email message, according to the paper.
Chapek, who joined Disney in 1993, has a long history with many of the units impacted most by COVID-19. As head of the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Chapek oversaw the opening of Disney's first theme park in China, and led the operation of its six resorts across the U.S., Europe and Asia. He has also served as president of Disney's Consumer Products and was president of distribution at Walt Disney Studios, where he spearheaded the "vault strategy" of its classic films.