Disney execs think Bob Iger’s ‘end game’ is sell to Apple

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By Dan Sears

More than a dozen past and present Disney executives reportedly told CNBC privately that they believe Bob Iger’s “desired end game” is to “remain CEO as long as possible” — and then sell the company to Apple.

Iger’s interests in teaming up with the tech behemoth date back to 2006, when Disney acquired Pixar, which was then chaired by Apple founder Steve Jobs — a $7.4 billion deal that led to a budding friendship between the two.

“Steve and I had become good friends since we’d made the Pixar deal. We socialized on occasion and talked a few times a week,” Iger penned in an excerpt of his memoir published on Vanity Fair that remembered Jobs, who passed away in October 2011.

“We vacationed at adjacent Hawaiian hotels a few times and would meet and take long walks on the beach, talking about our wives and kids, about music, about Apple and Disney and the things we might still do together. Our connection was much more than a business relationship.”

Analysts have long predicted that Disney and Apple would merge, especially since Iger wrote himself: “I believe that if Steve were still alive, we would have combined our companies, or at least discussed the possibility very seriously.”

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However, besides the fact that Apple has rarely made acquisitions as large as the Disney-Pixar deal — it’s largest was back in 2014, when it paid $1 billion for Beats Music and Beats Electronics — there’s also the question of whether the mega-merger would get regulatory approval.


Bob Iger's showed interest in teaming up with Apple as early as in 2006, when Disney acquired Pixar, which was then chaired by Apple founder Steve Jobs. The $7.4 billion deal led to a close friendship between the two.
Bob Iger showed interest in teaming up with Apple as early as in 2006, when Disney acquired Pixar, which was then chaired by Apple founder Steve Jobs. The $7.4 billion deal led to a close friendship between the two.
Getty Images

Iger penned in his memoir that he believes if Jobs were still alive, "we would have combined our companies, or at least discussed the possibility very seriously."
Iger penned in his memoir that he believes if Jobs were still alive, “we would have combined our companies, or at least discussed the possibility very seriously.”
Getty Images

Representatives from Disney and Apple didn’t immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

As regulators have cracked down on Big Tech, a slew of antitrust lawsuits have been filed claiming the likes of Amazon and Microsoft — which has been struggling to get its $75 billion acquisition of “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard approved — are monopolies.

In addition, Google is set to go to trial on Tuesday three years after the US Justice Department’s prosecutors alleged that the search giant has used a string of illegal business deals to cement its dominance.

However, one could argue that Iger has time on his side to maneuver a major acquisition, especially after Disney’s board extended his contract through 2026 this summer, marking the fifth time his departure as CEO has been pushed back.

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Iger made his first return to the entertainment media conglomerate in November after retiring in 2020 and giving up his head honcho spot to Bob Chapek, who disappointed investors with earnings reports that showed continued losses at Disney’s streaming media unit.

Despite leading Disney through the COVID-19 pandemic, Iger stepped back in and has since embarked on a $5.5 billion cost-cutting spree that included layoffs and a companywide restructuring.

Iger has also hinted that the sale of non-Disney assets like ABC and ESPN could be up for negotiation.

In a call with senior leaders of Disney’s TV properties in July, Iger said Disney’s traditional TV business “may not be core” to the entertainment giant, sources with knowledge told The Post at the time.

Among his comments was that Iger would be open to finding a strategic partner for ESPN.


Iger's contract as Mouse House CEO was recently extended through 2026 -- the fifth time his departure as CEO has been pushed back.
Iger’s contract as Mouse House CEO was recently extended through 2026 — the fifth time his departure as CEO has been pushed back.
Justin Lane/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Rumors have swirled that he may spin off ABC, too.

Disney is now also reportedly considering a new strategy for its linear television properties, which have been affected by dwindling audiences and the rise of cord-cutting.

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The company’s stock price was trading below $81 a share on Friday, hitting lows not seen in nearly a decade.

In March 2021, Disney stock hit an all-time high of nearly $190 per share.

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