Walt Disney Co. Executive Chairman Bob Iger has resumed control of the Burbank entertainment and media giant, according to media reports.
In a column in Sunday’s New York Times, Ben Smith wrote that Iger, 69, is “intensely focused on remaking a company” that will emerge, deeply changed by the coronavirus crisis.
Iger had stepped down in late February as chief executive of the company in favor of Bob Chapek, who had previously headed Disney’s theme parks division.
The timing of the transition was seen by sources interviewed by Smith as having left Iger distracted as the threat to the business from the coronavirus grew.
“No big media company is more dependent on its customers’ social and physical proximity than Disney, with its theme parks and cruise lines. Few have been hit harder by the pandemic,” Smith wrote.
Disney has shut down all its theme parks and kept its cruise ships in port. The company has furloughed thousands of employees in California and Florida as well as borrowing $6 billion to keep it going financially.
In an emergency like the one faced by Disney, Iger said he had no choice to abandon his plan to pull back from daily operations of the company he had headed since 2005.
“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 Smith in an email.
On Monday, shares of Disney (DIS) closed down $1, or nearly 1 percent, to $103.50 on the New York Stock Exchange.