Bob Iger returns as Disney CEO after less than a year in retirement

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Bob Iger has returned as chief executive of the Walt Disney Company after less than a year in retirement.

The company's board announced Iger's stunning return Sunday night and said Bob Chapek, who succeeded Iger in 2020, had stepped down from the position.

"The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period," board Chair Susan Arnold said in a statement.

Bob Iger is returning to Disney as CEO, replacing Bob Chapek. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Iger was Disney's CEO from 2005 to 2020, then served as the company's executive chairman through 2021 before retiring. Iger will now return as CEO for two years.

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"We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic," Arnold said.

Disney said Bob Chapek (pictured above) stepped down as CEO. (David Livingston/Getty Images / Getty Images)

"Mr. Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide – all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership," she continued.

Iger said he was "optomistic" about Disney's future and "thrilled" to be back as CEO.

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Bob Iger is once again Disney’s CEO, effective immediately. He will guide the company for the next two years after stepping away from the CEO position in 2020. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid / Reuters Photos)

"Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe — most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration," Iger said in a statement. "I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling."

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Under Iger in his previous tenure as CEO, Disney acquired Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox. He also oversaw the launch of Disney+.  

Iger's return comes after Disney posted lower than expected results for its fiscal fourth quarter.

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