Let it grow

Friday, May 29th, 2015

October is the 10th anniversary of Bob Iger’s appointment as Disney’s chief executive, a period that has been defined by acquisitions:

Mr Iger began putting the pieces in place for a Disney revival as soon he was told by the board that he would replace Mr Eisner, contacting Mr Jobs and expressing an interest in doing a deal. By January 2006, just three months after Mr Iger had started as chief executive, Disney bought Pixar in an all-stock deal worth $7.4bn. “I had this instinct that Pixar was the best way to fix and save Disney animation,” Mr Iger says.


The Pixar deal had big similarities with the two other landmark transactions of his tenure, Mr Iger says. As with Pixar, when Disney acquired Marvel and Lucasfilm it did not seek external advice from investment banks. Disney’s own corporate strategy unit, led by its top dealmaker Kevin Mayer, crunched the numbers, while Mr Iger made the approach and the pitch himself. “All three deals began with one-on-one discussions,” says Mr Iger. “I began each one pitching my heart out.”


Disney’s studio acquisitions have also been transformative for the three people who sold their companies to Disney. George Lucas, who sold the rights to the Star Wars franchise to Disney at the end of 2012, has generated a paper profit of $2.2bn on the shares he was given; Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, the largest shareholder in Marvel Entertainment at the time of the sale, has earned a paper profit of $1.7bn. The biggest paper profit has been made by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs. Mr Jobs was the majority shareholder in Pixar, which Disney acquired in an all-stock deal worth $7.4bn in 2006. Today the Jobs stake is worth about $14.3bn.

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