Disney CEO Bob Chapek Elected to Company's Board of Directors

Bob Chapek of Disney talks during the Opening Ceremony 2016 - Getty-H 2019
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The executive succeeded Bob Iger in February ahead of the novel coronavirus formally becoming a global pandemic.

A month and a half after being named Bob Iger's successor, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has been elected to the firm's board of directors, the conglomerate said Wednesday. Chapek will not be joining any board committees for now.

"Bob Chapek has demonstrated remarkable leadership in the face of unprecedented challenges that were unimaginable when he became CEO just seven weeks ago," said Susan Arnold, independent lead director of the Disney board, and Bob Iger, executive chairman and chairman of the board, in a joint statement.

Added Arnold and Iger, "We’ve watched him navigate this very complex situation with decisiveness and compassion. We are pleased to add Bob to the Board, as we stated we would when he was named CEO." 

The eventual addition of Chapek to Disney's board of directors was outlined in a Feb. 24 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that noted that the executive's employment deal "provides for Mr. Chapek to be elected as a member of the Board at a time to be determined by the Board and to be nominated for re-election to the Board during his tenure as Chief Executive Officer."

The timing of Chapek's addition to the board arrives days after Iger gave quotes to New York Times media columnist Ben Smith for an April 12 story that was framed as Iger "reasserting control" at the company. Chapek, who joined Disney in 1993, had served as chairman of the parks, experiences and products division before his elevation to CEO. 

Disney, with its theme parks shuttered, retail stores closed, TV networks facing an advertising downturn and film studios halting production, has taken a financial hit amid the pandemic. On March 19, the company noted in an SEC filing that "[t]here has been a disruption in creation and availability of content we rely on for our various distribution paths, including most significantly the cancellation of certain sports events and the shutting down of production of most film and television content."

Late last month, Chapek took a 50 percent pay cut from his $2.5 million base salary, and other executives across the company received pay reductions as well. Starting Sunday, Disney will begin furloughing employees "whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time," the Burbank-based media giant said earlier this month, with impacted staffers receiving "full health care benefits." 

As theater chains remain closed nationwide and many regions are under stay-at-home orders, Disney has given new summer release dates to some of its tentpole films, including Mulan (July 24) and Marvel Studios' Black Widow (Nov. 6).