For months, Hollywood has been engaged in a guessing game about Bob Chapek’s future as Disney’s chief executive, with detractors contending that missteps had sealed his fate with Disney’s board: His reign would soon be over.
The Walt Disney Company’s board renewed Mr. Chapek’s contract for another three years on Tuesday, with Susan Arnold, the board chair, saying in a statement that he is “the right leader at the right time” and espousing the board’s “full confidence in him and his leadership team.” That means that Mr. Chapek, who took the helm of Disney in February 2020, could remain there until at least July 2025. The vote was unanimous.
“In this important time of growth and transformation, the board is committed to keeping Disney on the successful path it is on today, and Bob’s leadership is key to achieving that goal,” Ms. Arnold said.
Mr. Chapek, 63, faces a daunting to-do list. Disney’s stock price needs to be reinvigorated, to put it mildly. The company’s balance sheet is still recovering from the pandemic. Employee morale needs improving. Disney has been struggling in China, with the Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland closing and reopening (and closing and reopening) because of coronavirus concerns, and Disney movies failing to get cleared for theatrical release by the Chinese authorities.
Disney’s domestic theme parks have been packed, with visitors spending more than ever on food, merchandise and hotel rooms. But some investors are worried that a possible recession could hurt park attendance and guest spending. Disney needs its theme parks to keep generating wheelbarrows of cash to offset losses at its streaming division, Disney+, which has been growing quickly but is not expected to be profitable until 2024.
“Leading this great company is the honor of a lifetime, and I am grateful to the board for their support,” Mr. Chapek said in a statement from Florida, where the board was meeting ahead of the…
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