Disney paid CEO Bob Iger nearly $32 million in 2023

Disney paid CEO Bob Iger nearly $32 million in 2023

  17 Jan 2024

Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger and his ousted successor, Bob Chapek, both received multimillion-dollar payouts during the 2023 fiscal year, according to the company’s preliminary proxy statement submitted on Tuesday.

Disney paid Iger, who returned as Disney CEO in late 2022, just under $31.6 million last year.

The majority of Iger’s compensation came from stock and option awards — $16.1 million — while his salary landed at $865,385. Disney also spent $1.2 million to cover Iger’s security and about $794,000 for his personal air travel.

Across his nearly two-decade tenure as Disney’s top executive, Iger has been one of the highest-paid CEOs in Hollywood, though his 2023 compensation falls short of the $65.6-million he received in 2018 and the $45.9 million in 2021 during his most recent tenure as CEO.

The pay cut is in part due to the declining value of Disney’s stock and a smaller base salary. (One of the largest executive pay packages in recent history went to Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav, who received $246.6 million in 2021, thanks to stock options.)

Chapek, who was fired shortly after the 2022 fiscal year ended, received $9.9 million in compensation, with $673,077 coming from salary, $1.3 million in stock options and about $7.7 million from severance and prorated bonuses.

Elsewhere in the proxy statement, both Iger and Disney’s board said they did not support the board nominations from Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management (Peltz and former Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo) and the activist hedge fund Blackwells (Warner Bros. executive Jessica Schell, Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Craig Hatkoff and former TaskRabbit Chief Executive Leah Solivan).

Disney’s status on Wall Street has fallen in recent years as the company has spent billions on streaming and faces a declining linear TV business.

As part of a larger strategy to hit $7.5 billion in cost savings, Disney has implemented mass layoffs and has toyed with the idea of selling off or finding major partners for its TV assets, which include ESPN, ABC and FX. The NFL is in advanced talks on taking a stake in Disney’s ESPN, according to a source familiar with the matter who was not authorized to comment.

Peltz has leveled myriad complaints toward Disney leadership, including about the company’s underperforming stock price, the debt load from Disney’s $71.3-billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox and CEO succession planning.

More recently, Peltz’s Trian Fund Management has said Disney’s board is “too closely connected to a long-tenured CEO and too disconnected from shareholders’ interests” to be effective.

Peltz has led an on-and-off proxy fight for a board seat since the summer of 2022. Since then, Disney said in its proxy filing, Peltz and/or former Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter have tried 24 times to get a board seat for Peltz.

“In deciding not to recommend Mr. Peltz, the directors considered a number of factors, including that in a two year quest for a seat on the Disney Board, Mr. Peltz had not actually presented a single strategic idea for Disney; that his assessment of Disney seemed oblivious to the ongoing secular change in the media industry; that Mr. Peltz’s experience was primarily in commodity consumer packaged goods businesses and not the media or technology sector, that Mr. Peltz had no experience in a business that is primarily driven by creative talent and focused on delivering uniquely memorable customer experiences.”

Disney added in its filing, “Mr. Peltz’s partnership with Mr. Perlmutter, who owns the lion’s share of the equity claimed by the Trian Group, and the complexity of Mr. Perlmutter’s history with Disney and Mr. Iger and other senior executives, created significant concern regarding how that partnership would impact Mr. Peltz’s agenda as a director.”

Directors also dismissed Rasulo’s bid to join the board, arguing that he has “an outdated perspective on the business [that] would be damaging to the ongoing strategic transformation underway” and that Rasulo’s “close relationship with Mr. Perlmutter, coupled with Mr. Rasulo’s having been passed over in the 2015 COO process … would likely inhibit Mr. Rasulo’s ability to work constructively with Mr. Iger and other executives at the Company with whom Mr. Perlmutter had clashed.”

A representative for Trian declined to comment.

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