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Disney Elects CEO Bob Chapek to Board of Directors

Chairman Bob Iger praised successor for handling coronavirus pandemic ”with decisiveness and compassion“

Disney announced on Wednesday that it has followed through on plans to name new CEO Bob Chapek to its Board of Directors.

“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,” Susan Arnold, independent Lead Director of the Disney Board, and Bob Iger, Board Chairman and Chapek’s predecessor as CEO, said in a joint statement.

“We are pleased to add Bob to the Board, as we stated we would when he was named CEO,” the statement added, referring to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released at the time of Chapek’s promotion.

The election comes two days after The New York Times reported that Iger had “smoothly reasserted control” of Disney in order to help the company navigate the financial turbulence brought by the coronavirus pandemic. The company has furloughed tens of thousands of employees across multiple divisions, including 43,000 employees at Disney World in Orlando. Walt Disney Pictures has also been forced, along with the rest of Hollywood, to postpone the release of all its 2020 films, with Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of “Artemis Fowl” being removed entirely from theatrical release and moved to release on the Disney+ streaming service.

“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 NYT’s Ben Smith in an email.

Chapek was named as Iger’s successor in an abrupt announcement in February, with Iger planning to transition to an executive chairman role that would allow him to focus on the creative side of the company. Chapek most recently served as Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, overseeing the opening of Disney’s new theme park in Shanghai and the launch of “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” at Disneyland and Disney World. He has previously served as head of Disney’s consumer products division and head of film distribution.