Sources: Iger Extends Disney Contract After Rejecting Gubernatorial Bid

Robert Iger at the 'Monsters University' premiere
Robert Iger at the 'Monsters University' premiere
 

The Walt Disney Co. has extended Robert Iger's contract as CEO for an additional 15 months after the chief executive weighed and decided against a possible run for governor of California, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

A Disney spokesperson had no comment. 

Though Iger has never publicly expressed interest in running for office, he was widely believed to harbor political ambitions. Another industry source tells THR that Iger also likely wants to see through the completion of the company's $3.7 billion theme park in Shanghai, which is set to open in 2016. "He did want to participate in the launch," the source said. Additionally, Iger is believed to have a desire to oversee the first of the newly acquired Lucasfilm's new "Star Wars" movies.

Iger was to have stepped down as CEO in March 2015 and serve as executive chairman until June 30, 2016. But in a regulatory filing on Monday, the entertainment and media conglomerate said Iger will remain as CEO until 2016. The executive chairman post apparently will not be created.

The amendment to Iger's employment agreement also provides that his "annual compensation for the extended period he will serve as CEO will be determined on the same basis as his annual compensation as CEO was determined prior to the amendment."

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Specifically, Iger's base salary will remain unchanged and his targets, incentives and bonuses for fiscal 2016 will be the same as those that apply for fiscal 2015. Iger earned $40 million in the most recent fiscal year, up 20 percent from the year prior. During the same time frame, Disney shares surged 76 percent.

Monday's announcement could be seen as a setback, at least temporarily, for Thomas Staggs, who has been chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts since January 2010 and, as THR reported in October 2011, has long been seen as Iger's eventual successor. (Disney CFO Jay Rasulo has also been mentioned as a potential successor.) Before that, he had served as CFO since 1998, playing a role in Disney's acquisitions of Capital Cities/ABC, Pixar and Marvel Entertainment. 

One analyst predicted that Monday's announcement would not ruffle investors' feathers.

"I suspect Wall Street will be fine with it," said Steve Birenberg of Northlake Capital Management. "There is no obvious successor in the Disney ranks with the kind of stature that one would have as top dog at Disney. Iger has done well with global investment in theme parks and ESPN sports rights looking set to pay off over the next few years, and the realignment of the movie studio that is now built on the back of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Not much for shareholders or Disney's board to complain about except the misfires and losses in video games and maybe lack of aggressive share buybacks, but those could be coming as the investment mode winds down."

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