Alex Sherman of CNBC has shared a list of 2023 predictions from anonymous media executives, including four predictions for The Walt Disney Company, which was recently rocked by the firing of Bob Chapek and the return of CEO Bob Iger. Sherman did a similar article last year, with executives predicting Bob Iger’s return.
The first prediction on Sherman’s list is that Netflix will merge with another company. One executive guessed it would merge with Paramount Global, while another guessed Disney. As Sherman points out, however, Disney is a long shot given its own market valuation is about $165 billion and Netflix’s is $130 billion. A merger would be huge and also create a streaming monopoly that may not be allowed under antitrust laws.
The second prediction is that Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs could return with the acquisition of their company, Candle Media. As we reported soon after Iger’s return last month, Disney actually reached out to Mayer and Staggs about taking over the company when Chapek’s contract was up. But such a deal would have required Disney to buy their start-up, which Chapek wouldn’t have agreed to.
With Iger back at the reigns, he could follow through with the acquisition and name Mayer or Staggs his successor as CEO. He passed over both of them previously, a surprise move to many, pushing the executives to leave Disney. As Sherman points out, bringing back Mayer or Staggs would mean admitting a major wrong on Iger’s part. But he’s already done that by replacing his choice of Chapek.
Though Iger has said he isn’t focused on mergers and acquisitions at this time, it is what he become known for during his first stint as CEO, buying Pixar, LucasFilm, and Marvel. Candle Media owns Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company and Moonbug Entertainment. The latter owns the popular kid’s show “CoComelon.”
Another executive predicts that Iger will extend his contract instead of rushing to choose a successor. His current contract expires in two years on December 31, 2024. At 71 years old, Iger may not be able to run Disney forever, but he could extend his contract for a few more years.
The final Disney prediction on Sherman’s list is that CFO Christine McCarthy will leave the company. McCarthy led the campaign to remove Chapek as CEO and bring back Iger. Some insiders say she could be next in line for Disney CEO. But Sherman’s source says McCarthy is more likely to leave the company than step up to CEO. Sherman writes, “While McCarthy turned on Chapek, she also was part of his inner circle for years. Iger may view that suspiciously, given his litany of differences with Chapek, even though McCarthy also served as Iger’s CFO from 2015 to 2020.”
McCarthy’s contract expires in the middle of 2024.
Of course, Chapek’s contract was extended to 2025 shortly before his firing, so it seems contracts don’t mean much these days.
What do you think of these predictions? What do you hope will happen with The Walt Disney Company in 2023? Let us know in the comments.