Disney CEO Bob Iger is reportedly considering sticking around the company past his previously announced retirement plans.
According to The Wall Street Journal, sources familiar with Disney’s plans say progress finding a replacement for Iger has stalled since would-be heir COO Tom Staggs left last year.
Iger may announce plans to stay longer during Disney’s shareholder meeting in March and, if he does decide to extend his rein, it would be the third time he has done so.
Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar wrote in a research note that Iger has overseen many transformational acquisitions for Disney and that more could be in store should he continue to run the company.
"Early in Mr. Iger’s tenure, he advocated a strategic shift towards studios with the acquisition of Pixar, Marvel and Lucas films [sic], which have driven growth since. Given this historical context, it wouldn’t be surprising for Disney to look out to the next decade and try to solve for assets that it would need to remain competitive, especially if Mr. Iger remains CEO for a few more years,” wrote Venkateshwar.
He goes on to note that the “biggest hole” in Disney’s capabilities at present is distribution.
“In this state of the world, while an asset like BAM Tech is quite an important component to reach consumers directly, BAM Tech does not provide Disney with front end retail relationships on scale to make a difference to Disney today. We believe in order to remain competitive in a world where digital access platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. could look to acquire sports rights and other media content, success will be determined by the ability to bundle media with more services,” wrote Venkateshwar. “It will be tough, in our opinion, for Disney to build these capabilities group up. Consequently, we believe if Mr. Iger does extend his contract for a few more years, he could focus more on gaining a scaled distribution platform.”
Venkateshwar’s line of thinking seems to call back to the recent rumors that Disney would consider going after an acquisition target like Netflix.
But Disney CFO Christine McCarthy seemed to downplay the possibility of a Netflix merger when she spoke recently at an investor conference. And Netflix too has questioned whether its strategy as an independent company would be derailed somewhat by aligning with a larger media group like Disney.