Disney board names Nike veteran Mark Parker as new chair

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Disney’s board has named Nike veteran Mark Parker as its next chair, succeeding Susan Arnold, whose leadership came under question last year over the company’s handling of former chief executive Bob Chapek’s final months in the job.

The board changes come less than two months after Bob Iger, Disney’s longtime chief executive, returned to the company following the ousting of Chapek in November.

Disney said Arnold, the first woman to chair the entertainment group, would not stand for re-election as a director at the company’s next annual meeting because of a 15-year term limit mandated by the board’s tenure rules.

Her stint as chair, which started in 2021, was marked by the challenges brought by the Covid-19 epidemic, which hurt Disney’s theatrical and theme park businesses, and Chapek’s rocky tenure. She came under scrutiny after the company renewed Chapek’s contract last summer, only to dismiss him abruptly in November.

Parker, executive chair of Nike, has served on the Disney board for seven years. In a statement, Arnold said Parker “has helped [Disney] effectively navigate through a time of unprecedented change”.

The Disney board has been the target of activist investors. Last year Daniel Loeb pressed Disney to appoint media veteran Carolyn Everson to its board. Nelson Peltz of Trian Partners is also seeking election as a director and has made a proposal to amend Disney’s Bylaws.

In a statement on Wednesday, Disney said it “remains open to constructive engagement” but would not endorse Peltz’s nomination to the board.

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