Disney’s Bob Iger to forgo salary amid coronavirus crisis

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NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, speaks during an Economic Club of New York event in Midtown Manhattan on October 24, 2019 in New York City. Earlier this year, Iger announced that he will step down as CEO and chairman of Disney when his contract expires at the end of 2021.

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 24: Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, speaks during an Economic Club of New York event in Midtown Manhattan on October 24, 2019 in New York City. Earlier this year, Iger announced that he will step down as CEO and chairman of Disney when his contract expires at the end of 2021. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images/tNS)

Walt Disney Co. Executive Chairman Bob Iger will forgo his salary starting in April as the company deals with the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis that has shuttered theme parks and film productions.

Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek said on Monday that senior executives including Iger would have their salaries reduced to “shoulder the burden” of the Burbank entertainment giant’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapek, who was named CEO in February, will take a 50% salary cut.

Iger’s annual base salary is $3 million, while Chapek’s is $2.5 million.

The decision comes as Disney continues to suffer from widespread disruption due to government-mandated steps to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Disney on Friday said Disneyland and Walt Disney World parks would remain closed “until further notice.” Disney had previously said the parks would be closed through the end of March.

The outbreak has also closed Disney’s cruise line business, shuttered retail stores and delayed multiple film and television productions. The situation also forced the company to push back the release dates for high-profile films including “Mulan” and “Black Widow” indefinitely. On March 20, Disney disclosed it had raised $6 billion in debt as it weathered the blow from the virus.

“While I am confident we will get through this challenging period together and emerge even stronger, we must take necessary steps to manage the short- and long-term financial impact on our company,” Chapek said in an email to staff. “In light of this, we are going to be implementing a variety of necessary measures designed to better position us to weather these extraordinary challenges. Among them, we will be asking our senior executives to help shoulder the burden by taking a reduction in pay.”

Many other executives will see their pay reduced, as well. Vice presidents at Disney will have their salaries cut by 20%. Pay for senior vice presidents and executive vice presidents will be docked 25% and 30%, respectively. The reductions take effect April 5.

“This temporary action will remain in effect until we foresee a substantive recovery in our business,” Chapek said.

Iger is one of the media industry’s highest-paid executives, but his base salary of $3 million makes up a small percentage of his total compensation. His total pay was $48 million in fiscal 2019, including a cash bonus and stock options. Bonuses and other awards are based on performance and determined at the end of the fiscal year.

Iger’s compensation has been criticized in the past by activists including Abigail Disney, a granddaughter of company co-founder Roy Disney.

Other entertainment company leaders, including AMC Theatres’ Adam Aron and Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel, have also zeroed out their salaries in recent days.

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com


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