BURBANK, Calif., March, 13, 2005 – The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) Board of Directors announced today that Robert A. Iger has been unanimously elected Chief Executive Officer effective September 30, 2005. He will succeed Michael D. Eisner, current CEO, who announced his intention to retire in a letter to the Board last year dated September 9, and will step down as CEO on September 30, 2005.
“After a lengthy, thorough and professional selection process, comparing both internal and external candidates against our criteria for CEO, I am pleased to announce the decision of the Walt Disney Board of Directors to select Robert Iger as the company’s next chief executive officer,” said Sen. George J. Mitchell, chairman of The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors. “Bob is an experienced, talented and visionary leader who has made crucial and substantial contributions toward Disney’s strong performance. On behalf of the entire Board, I want to express how excited we are at the prospect of Bob leading this extraordinary company and talented management team to new levels of financial and creative success in the years ahead.”
“It is truly an honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of guiding this great company that occupies such an important place in the hearts and minds of millions the world over toward a very bright future,” said Iger. “It’s also an honor to work with our incredibly talented and dedicated worldwide team. I feel all the more privileged to succeed Michael, whose tremendous 20-year leadership and enormous accomplishments have built this company into the world’s preeminent leader in family entertainment.”
“It is with a considerable amount of satisfaction and even pride that I approach the end of my term as CEO of this company,” said Michael D. Eisner, former chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. “By every financial and creative measure, Disney is performing at its peak. I have enjoyed virtually every moment of my tenure and want to express my appreciation to the phenomenal colleagues with whom I have been privileged to work. I believe Disney is now poised for its brightest days in the years ahead under the able and insightful leadership of Bob, who has not only the qualities to succeed, but also has a keen sense of the Disney brand and how to maintain its leadership position and grow it on a worldwide scale.”
The election of Mr. Iger culminates a lengthy and detailed CEO selection process that started formally when the Disney Board announced on September 21, 2004 that it would, “engage in a thorough, careful, and reasoned process to select as the next CEO the best person for the company, its shareholders, employees, customers, and for the many millions of others who care so much about The Walt Disney Company. The Board is keenly aware of the special place our company holds in the hearts of people all over the world and the importance of its responsibility in choosing a CEO.” The Board also made known that day its intention to “complete the process and announce a successor as soon as possible, with an expected date of completion of June 2005.”
Directors selected the executive search firm of Heidrick & Struggles in October 2004 in order to assist with the CEO selection process.
“The search and the process for considering potential candidates was thorough and exhaustive and met the most rigorous standards,” said Gerard Roche, senior chairman, Heidrick & Struggles.
Mr. Iger’s biography is attached. Also attached is Michael Eisner’s letter to the Disney Board of Directors.
ROBERT A. IGER BIOGRAPHY
BURBANK, Calif., March 13, 2005 – Robert A. Iger was named president and chief operating officer of The Walt Disney Company in January, 2000. At that time, he also became a member of Disney’s board of directors and of its executive management committee.
Iger had been chairman of the Disney-owned ABC Group, where he guided the complex merger of ABC with The Walt Disney Company. Simultaneously, he was president of Walt Disney International, where he created an organization embracing Europe, the Asia-Pacific Region and Latin America. His mission for Walt Disney International was to establish Disney’s brand on a worldwide basis and consolidate international operations under a coordinated leadership.
As Disney’s president and chief operating officer, Iger works with Michael D. Eisner, chief executive officer, in overseeing all aspects of The Walt Disney Company’s operations on a worldwide basis. The heads of all of Disney’s business units and its chief strategic officer report to both Eisner and Iger. Iger first became part of Disney’s management team in 1996, when The Walt Disney Company acquired Capital Cities/ABC, where Iger had been president and chief operating officer.
During Iger’s years with ABC, he obtained hands-on experience in virtually every aspect of the television network business, including news, sports and entertainment, as well as the business side of television such as program acquisition, rights negotiations and business affairs.
ABC saw tremendous growth during Iger’s career there, becoming a market leader in network television and expanding into numerous cable and related ventures, including A&E, The History Channel, Lifetime, ESPN and ESPN-related businesses.
He began his career at ABC in 1974 as a studio supervisor in New York, then moved to ABC Sports, where he advanced over a 12-year period through a series of increasingly responsible management posts. He became vice president of programming, responsible for all scheduling and program acquisitions for ABC Sports in 1987. He left ABC Sports in 1988 for a promotion to executive vice president of the ABC Television Network and became president of ABC Entertainment in Los Angeles a year later. Iger was promoted to president to the ABC Television Network Group in New York in 1993 and added the title of president and chief operating officer of ABC in 1994.
He is a member of the board of directors of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. and New York City Outward Bound. He is a trustee of the Museum of Television and Radio and of Ithaca College, where he graduated magna cum laude.
A native of New York, Iger was born February 10, 1951. He has two daughters, Kate and Amanda, and two sons, Max and William. He is married to Willow Bay.
LETTER DATED MARCH 13, 2005 FROM MICHAEL D. EISNER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY TO MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
TO: The Directors of The Walt Disney Company:
After nearly 21 years as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, it is with a wide range of positive emotions that I welcome the Board of Directors’ announcement of my successor, Bob Iger. As the Board has wisely concluded, Bob is an extraordinary executive with 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry and is uniquely qualified to take charge of this incredible company. As president during the past five years, he has provided steady and inspired leadership as he helped steer Disney through a storm of challenges, bringing the company to its current thriving condition in the calm waters and bright skies of financial and creative success. As you well know, last year alone, we delivered earnings per share growth of more than 60%, resulting in record earnings and free cash flow. This fiscal year, we will deliver double digit earnings growth and again post record-high earnings. From a shareholder perspective, Disney has outperformed the other three major media companies over the last five year, three year, and one year periods.
So, it is with a considerable amount of satisfaction and even pride that I approach the end of my term as CEO of this company. There is a tinge of sadness added to these emotions, similar to the feeling one experiences at the end of a great day at Disneyland as one pulls into the station after the final E-ticket ride.
And what a ride this has been. In 1984, the company had a $2 billion equity market cap. Today, it is nearly $60 billion. Revenues were $1.5 billion; in 2004, they surpassed $30 billion. Net income was $98 million; last year, it was more than $2.3 billion.
Our creative achievements around the world in the fields of film, broadcast and cable television, consumer products and theme parks have been exceptional, driving compound annual returns for Disney stock since 1984 of 17.3%, versus the S&P 500’s 13.0%. More recently, despite that storm of challenges, Disney investors have been rewarded with a 6.5% annual return during the past three years, compared to the S&P 500’s 3.0%, and since the beginning of this fiscal year our return to shareholders has been 20.6% versus the S&P’s 6.9%.
Disney’s remarkable financial and creative growth has been achieved by a phenomenal management team. We currently have in place a group of executives who are focused, able and experienced. They have kept the company moving forward and have not been distracted by the combustion of world events or the noise of Hollywood gossip. These are seasoned individuals who have the vision to set lofty goals and the leadership to achieve them. They know the receptivity, the affection and the respect the Disney name and products command from continent to continent. We can count on them to continue to distribute creativity throughout the world, intellectual excellence throughout the world, ESPN and Disney throughout the world. Hong Kong Disneyland (our front door to China), opening on Sept 12th.of this year, along with the resort around it, is but one example.
Bob will now continue the momentum of the company and put his own visionary imprint on it as he launches Disney into the future. As I have told Bob and all of you, I am available to assist in a seamless and orderly transition. Although I intend to remain as a Disney director until the annual meeting of 2006, I will not make a request of the Board to nominate me for an additional term nor will I seek the chairmanship of the company after the retirement of Senator Mitchell.
This brings me to yet another emotion I feel as the transition begins – excitement, excitement about a book I wrote called “Camp,” which gets released on Father’s Day and perhaps will lead to the camp of my youth, Keewaydin, hiring me as a counselor again, excitement that my oldest son Breck got engaged to Georgia Irwin yesterday just four weeks before “Sahara,” a film he directed, gets released by Paramount Pictures, excitement about all the possibilities I see before me. As much as I have loved nearly every minute of my tenure at Disney, two decades is enough time to spend as a chief executive officer of one company. I’m ready to move on and climb new mountains, while always being available to help Disney in any way I can. Beginning October 1, I expect to clean off my hiking boots, re-stock my Mickey Mouse backpack and start surveying some of the other peaks that are on the horizon.
I thank members of our management team, our entire cast, our shareholders, and the men and women who serve or have served on our Board for their enthusiasm and support for The Walt Disney Company. And mostly I thank Walt Disney for bringing to us a culture and a mouse.