Risking shareholder anger, Disney will replace controversial Chief Executive Michael Eisner with the company’s president and chief operating officer Robert Iger.
Eisner steps down in September, a year earlier than originally planned, but he will stay on the board for one further year. Iger has been Eisner’s loyal deputy for the last four years.
Media analyst Dennis McAlpine pointed out the former boss will still be involved for a while yet. He said: “If Michael Eisner was gone completely, this would be a different ball game with Bob Iger running it. We don’t quite yet know how he is going to be, what his style is. McAlpine also praised Eisner’s achievements: “Ultimately, Eisner will be assessed positively. If anything, maybe he stayed on too long. But when he came in, the job he did was certainly good.”
Eisner has reigned over Disney for more than 20 years, at first revitalising it, but more recently antogonising shareholders who wanted him out.
Iger has had a long career in television, starting in 1974 with America’s ABC network.
TV makes up 40% of the entertainment giant’s turnover, which was 24 billion euros last year.
But his selection has angered shareholders, including Walt Disney’s nephew Roy, who last year mounted a protest against Eisner. They complained investors have been conned and they accused the Disney board of directors of failing to find major outside candidates. Reportedly top executives from eBay, News Corporation, Viacom and Yahoo were considered, but either withdrew or didn’t make the final cut.