Disney’s board gave no indication of whether CEO Bob Chapek would be fired, but insiders say there are plenty of candidates to replace him

The CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Chapek, continues to make mistakes and disappoint fans, fueling speculation that he could be removed from his position. Business Intern spoke to ten insiders — including Disney executives, consultants and board governance experts — about Chapek.

“At the highest level of Hollywood, [there’s] a consensus that Chapek is damaged merchandise and lacks the finesse or ability to save himself,” said a Hollywood insider familiar with Disney.

A media consultant told Business Insider that it is the responsibility of the board to hire and fire CEOs as well as put in place an emergency succession plan. Although the board did not indicate that it would fire Chapek, the media consultant said a contingency plan “is either fully developed or underway”.

Another insider close to Disney executives reiterated that the board hadn’t indicated it would be changing CEOs. They added that directors were waiting after Disney’s second-quarter earnings call today, May 11. Additionally, board members are not allowed to speak on this decision as it would be a breach of contract.

Chapek’s latest bad press has centered on his initial lack of response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Although he eventually denounced the bill, it still passed the Florida Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. Despite concerns from cast members about the bill, Disney still plans to move Walt Disney Imagineers and more jobs to Central Florida.

James Stewart, author of the 2006 book “DisneyWar,” previously told CNBC that the situation in Florida was “a growing cause of concern for many investors.”

Former CEO Bob Iger shared his dislike of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill long before Disney and then sat down with NBCUniversal’s executive team. An insider said Iger feels the company he started is mismanaged.

Some Hollywood executives believe bringing Iger back as chairman of the board could improve the situation. Iger previously said rumors that he would return as CEO were “ridiculous”.

Some thought Nike board member and executive chairman Mark Parker could replace Chapek, but a senior Disney official said that was “simply not true”.

Others have suggested Peter Rice, chairman of Disney General Entertainment, as a candidate for CEO. Rice joined Disney when it acquired 20th Century Fox.

ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro is another possibility. Before taking over ESPN in 2018, he was president of consumer products and interactive media for Disney.

A former Disney executive told Business Insider that Catherine Powell should also be considered. Powell is currently head of global accommodations at Airbnb, but was previously president of the West Region of Disney Parks, including Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris.

Other possible replacements include Kevin Mayer, the former president of direct-to-consumer and international, and Thomas Staggs, who was once Disney’s chief operating officer and favorite to succeed Iger. The two now work together to run Candle Media.

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