New Disney CEO says company will continue to follow path Bob Iger laid

New Disney CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC on Tuesday he will continue to steer the company down the path laid by its former leader, Bob Iger.

“I suspect in the beginning it will be more of the same because essentially the strategies that Bob’s put in place are really long lasting in terms of where the company is going to go in the short-term,” Chapek said on “Fast Money.”

But just as Iger faced the rise of video streaming during his tenure, Chapek said he understands “disruption and transformation are just inevitable in this business.”

“It hits each one of our businesses a little bit differently, but it’s inevitable that those business will be disrupted and it’s recognizing at that time when we’ll need to shift,” Chapek said. “And that’s, I think, the art of the job.”

Iger stepped down as Disney CEO on Tuesday, a surprise move as he had previously said he planned to retire in 2021.

The 69-year-old media mogul will become executive chairman and stay on through the end of 2021.

Iger has helped guide Disney through four major acquisitions — of Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox — and the launch of its streaming service, Disney+.

In 2005, the year Iger became CEO, Disney reported net income of $2.5 billion. By last year, net profits had risen more than 300% to $10.4 billion.

The company’s stock rose more than 400% while Iger was at the helm, increasing from roughly $25 per share to its Tuesday close of $128.

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Shares of Disney fell 2.5% in after-hours trading following the announcement, but have recovered some of those losses.

Chapek, who has been at the company for 27 years, was most recently in charge of the Disney’s parks, experiences and products.

He helped Disney open its Shanghai resort in 2016, as well as the doubling of the Disney Cruise Line fleet and the expansion of Marvel-inspired attractions worldwide.

Chapek said he is well-prepared to face the disruption happening around television and content distribution. He said direct-to-consumer initiatives are his “sweet spot.”

“That is something I could leverage now throughout all my experiences not only at Disney, but even before Disney, in terms of figuring how we take the data, the information, the technology, and once again our storytelling, right direct to the consumer,” he said.

Michael Nathanson, senior research analyst at MoffettNathanson, called Disney’s parks business the only direct-to-consumer segment it had before Disney+ launched.

“Bob is probably the best qualified person in the company to take this job,” Nathanson said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” Tuesday. “His history in all the divisions that really matter really is very supportive of him taking on that role.”

– CNBC’s Sarah Whitten contributed to this report.


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