Disney CEO Bob Iger's Annual Pay Falls to $47.5 Million

Disney CEO Bob Iger - Getty - H 2020
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That compared with $65.6 million in the previous year, which was boosted by a stock package that the executive was awarded as an incentive to remain with the company past his planned retirement date.

The Walt Disney Company on Friday disclosed that chairman and CEO Bob Iger's compensation package was $47.5 million for the company's latest fiscal year, which ended in September.

That compared with $65.6 million in fiscal 2018, which was boosted by a stock package that Iger was awarded as incentive to remain with the company past his originally planned retirement date. He earned $36.3 million in 2017 and $43.9 million in the year before that.

Disney disclosed the compensation for its top executives in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday afternoon. In the filing, the board wrote that it revised Iger's 2019 compensation "three separate times," after speaking with 11 of the company's top 20 shareholders, including six of its top 10. "Through that feedback, we learned of the concerns about certain aspects of Mr. Iger's employment agreement, including concerns from some shareholders regarding the amount of Mr. Iger's total compensation and the rigor of the performance criteria for Mr. Iger's one-time performance-based equity award," the board wrote in the filing.

"In an effort to appropriately balance the pay for performance design of our compensation program with this shareholder feedback, the Compensation Committee discussed with Mr. Iger, and Mr. Iger agreed on three separate occasions, to reduce for fiscal 2019 the compensation he would have otherwise been entitled to under his employment contract,"  the statement added.

2019 was a significant year for the company, as Disney closed its $71.3 billion mega-deal for large parts of the 21st Century Fox entertainment business. It also completely dominated the worldwide box office, with Avengers: Endgame becoming the highest-grossing release of all time, not adjusted for inflation.

For its latest fiscal year, the conglomerate reported net income from continuing operations of $10.4 billion, down 17 percent from $12.6 billion in the previous year, on revenue of $69.6 billion, up 17 percent.

After the close of the fiscal year, it also launched its Disney+ streaming service, which analysts have called a transformative refocusing of the Hollywood giant. Iger himself has called it the "most important product" launch since he became CEO in 2005. 

The streaming service — whose original content offerings include Star Wars series The Mandalorian, featuring breakout star Baby Yoda; a new live-action Lady and the Tramp; and a High School Musical reboot — reported 10 million signups after one day.

The entry into streaming will also result in Disney reevaluating the company it considers in its industry "peer groups."

“For fiscal 2020, the Committee expanded the Company's media industry peer groups to include more technology-focused companies entering the media industry, adding Alphabet, Amazon.com, Apple, AT&T, Discovery, Facebook and Netflix to our media industry peers, and retaining current peers, CBS, Comcast and Viacom,” the board wrote in the filing.

Iger has said he will retire at the end of 2021, with observers discussing his likely successor. Many believe the inside track may belong to Kevin Mayer, chairman of direct-to-consumer and international.