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Disney Names Parks Head Chapek to Succeed Iger as CEO

The Walt Disney Co. named Bob Chapek as CEO, succeeding Bob Iger, who becomes executive chairman.

The company said Iger will direct the company’s creative work and guide the company through an executive leadership transition through when his contract ends Dec. 31, 2021.

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Chapek had been head of Disney’s parks unit. Disney has had a history of difficult successions and Iger has extended his contract several times before now naming a successor.

Related: Iger Named to B+C Hall of Fame

Iger has overseen an overhaul of Disney’s TV business, shifting priorities to streaming from traditional TV. Last year’s launch of Disney+ drew 10 million subscribers on its first day and the service has continued to grow.

“With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of 21st Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO,” Iger said in a statement. “I have the utmost confidence in Bob and look forward to working closely with him over the next 22 months as he assumes this new role and delves deeper into Disney’s multifaceted global businesses and operations, while I continue to focus on the company’s creative endeavors.”

Chapek was named chairman of the parks division in 2018. Earlier in his career he was president of Walt Disney Studio Home Entertainment and president of Disney Consumer Products. Before Disney, he held jobs at H.J. Heinz and J. Walter Thompson.

"I am incredibly honored and humbled to assume the role of CEO of what I truly believe is the greatest company in the world, and to lead our exceptionally talented and dedicated cast members and employees,” Chapek said. “Bob Iger has built Disney into the most admired and successful media and entertainment company, and I have been lucky to enjoy a front-row seat as a member of his leadership team. I share his commitment to creative excellence, technological innovation and international expansion, and I will continue to embrace these same strategic pillars going forward. Everything we have achieved thus far serves as a solid foundation for further creative storytelling, bold innovation and thoughtful risk-taking.”

Chapek will be added to Disney’s board. A new head of the Disney Parks, Experiences and Product unit will be named at a future time, the company said.