Disney's investors were in for a surprise after the company announced the departure of Thomas Staggs, chief operating officer and heir apparent, effective May 6.
Staggs became the Walt Disney Company's top 2 executive last year, beating James A. Rasulo, who has also left the company last February. Staggs is staying with the company until Fall, serving as "special adviser" to Mr. Iger.
Now, the company is left with only two years to get things straight before CEO Bob Iger steps down the thrown in 2018. Staggs has spent 12 years as Disney's chief financial officer and was the theme park chairman, being in charge of the parks and resorts team. He has also played a vital role in the developing plans for Disneyland Shanghai.
According to NYTimes, Disney has acknowledged that Staggs is also Iger's handpicked heir, pending the board's approval.
Meanwhile, Iger has accomplished several monumental deals for the company. "Iger has done such a commendable job in his 10 years at Disney that he will be a very hard act to follow," Tim Nollen, Macquarie analyst, said.
A Forbes article stated that it was during Iger's reigns that the Disney's stock began to triple, brought about by investments and the acquisition of Pixar, Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm. Disney still has plenty of time to choose its next CEO and said on Monday it "will broaden the scope of its succession planning process to identify and evaluate a robust slate of candidates for consideration." There is a possibility that the board may look outside for a successor.
This uncertain future has affected the shares of the company. "Uncertainty around the process is likely to be an overhang on the stock," wrote Kannan Venkateshwar, Barclays analyst. For instance, the shares of the company were down 2% in pre-market trading Tuesday.
Disney is also known to have a history of bumpy transitions of power. Will this be another one of those bumpy succession stories for the company?