The Walt Disney Company has named Nike executive Mark Parker as its new board chairman, replacing longtime director Susan Arnold, whose term is expiring.
Parker, a member of Disney’s board since 2016, takes over Disney’s board during a time of transition for America’s largest media company. Bob Iger recently returned to the CEO position after a brief hiatus.
“Mark Parker’s vision, incredible depth of experience and wise counsel have been invaluable to Disney, and I look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role, along with our other executives, as we chart the future direction of this incredible company.” Iger said in a statement.
In 2019, Parker stepped down as CEO of Nike after 13 years at the helm. Disney said that among Parker’s qualifications for chairman is that he led a successful CEO transition at Nike. On Wednesday, Disney announced the formation of a CEO succession committee to replace Iger, who said in November that he would only return as CEO for two years.
“My and the Board’s top priority is to identify and prepare a successful successor to the CEO, and that process has already begun,” Parker said in a statement Wednesday.
Iger’s return shocked the media industry. Disney fired Bob Chapek, who replaced Iger as CEO in 2020.
Among the problems facing Disney: Its streaming business lost $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter. And Disney’s media networks are struggling as cord-cutting accelerates and once-lucrative outlets like ESPN lose ratings. Dan Loeb, activist investor and CEO of Third Point, made headlines in August when he suggested that “a strong case can be made that the ESPN business should be spun off to shareholders with appropriate debt.”
Another activist shareholder group, Trian Partners, named its leader Nelson Peltz as a director. Disney said Wednesday it would work with Peltz but opposed his appointment to the board.
“MR. “Iger’s mandate is to use his two-year tenure and in-depth industry experience to adapt the business model to the changing media landscape, balancing investment and revenue opportunities while refocusing on the creative talent that made the Walt Disney Company the envy of the industry,” the company said in its opposition to Peltz. .
Arnold, the outgoing chairwoman, has served on Disney’s board since 2007. She was announced as the board’s leader on December 31, 2021.
She praised Parker for helping guide Disney through a difficult period for the company and the wider media industry.
“Mark Parker is an incredibly well-respected leader who, during his seven years as Disney CEO, has helped the company effectively navigate a time of unprecedented change,” Arnold said in a statement.
Iger praised Arnold for her “excellent leadership … and her tireless work over the past 15 years as an exemplary steward of the Disney brand.”