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Why Disney’s CEO Bob Iger Pushed Back Retirement

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Iger to stay to the end of 2021

Bob Iger, the chief executive of Disney (DIS), has had several retirement dates scheduled—but none have come to pass so far. In March 2017, Disney, which is preparing to acquire significant parts of Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX)(FOXA), extended Iger’s retirement date by a year—the third time Iger’s reign at Disney was extended.

The March extension meant that Iger would retire in July 2019, the year Disney is expected to stop serving its content on Netflix’s (NFLX) platform and instead launch its own online streaming video service to compete with Netflix and Amazon (AMZN).

Digital video services are eating into pay-TV viewing time, as the graph above from eMarketer shows.

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Running for president

Then as Disney was announcing a deal to acquire Fox’s film business and a host of other media and entertainment assets for $52.4 billion or $66.1 billion including debt, it also emerged that Iger had agreed to renew his term for a few more years. Instead of leaving in July 2019, Iger would now stay on through the end of 2021.

The Disney chief had been speculated to be considering running for president in 2020. So with the extension of his tenure at Disney, Iger would likely shelve his political ambitions—at least until his retirement from the Mouse House comes to pass.

Murdoch tied deal with Disney to Iger’s stay

For Iger to extend his retirement date for the fourth time to the end of 2021, it turns out that Rupert Murdoch, whose family controls Fox, had a hand in the decision. During the negotiations that resulted in Fox agreeing to sell most of its assets to Disney, Murdoch set Iger’s continued stay at Disney as a condition for a deal, the New York Times reported.

The Murdoch family also controls Fox’s sibling, News Corp. (NWSA), which runs newspaper businesses such as the Wall Street Journal and the UK-based The Times.

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