Eisner is leaving Disney
Eisner saying goodbye to Mickey
Embattled CEO to retire from Disney in 2006 when contract expires; says 'I'm going to Disneyland.'
September 10, 2004: 7:48 AM EDT
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Embattled Disney CEO Michael Eisner will leave the media conglomerate in two years, the company announced early Friday.
Michael Eisner plans to retire as Disney CEO in two years, the company said Friday.
Eisner, who has led the company for nearly 20 years, sent a letter to the board of the Walt Disney Co. on Thursday saying he planned to retire at the expiration of his employment contract Sept. 30, 2006.
Eisner, 62, was stripped of the his position as chairman of the company after about 43 percent of shareholders voted in May not to return him to the board. But he retained the support of the company's board, despite attacks from two former board members, Stanley Gold and Roy Disney, the nephew of company founder Walt Disney.
Shares of Disney (DIS: Research, Estimates) fell in European trading early Friday on the news.
In an interview published Sunday in the Los Angeles Times, Eisner said Disney President Robert Iger was his "preferred choice" to succeed him. Iger, a veteran broadcasting executive, told the newspaper he was interested in the job.
Eisner's letter to the board recalled how much the company has grown in his 20 years heading the company, with revenue rising to a projected $30 billion this year from $1.7 billion when he took over.
He ended the letter with the company's famous advertising line which he said had been suggested by his wife, Jane: "I'm going to Disneyland!"
The company acquired television networks ABC and ESPN during his tenure, as well as independent film studio Miramax. It also opened several new theme parks.
But Disney has seen disappointing ratings at ABC and poor box office from many Disney films this year.
Roy Disney charged Eisner's management style chased away some key talented executives from the company. But at least one analyst said Friday that Eisner doesn't deserve all the blame heaped upon him in the last year.
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"He's been such a lightening rod for criticism, often times for things that were clearly not in his purview to make better," said Jeffrey Logsdon, analyst with Harris Nesbitt. "If theme park attendance goes down because of 9/11, is that Michael's fault?"
Logsdon said it is too soon to say if Eisner's departure will stop the turmoil among Disney shareholders, but he doubts there will be much lasting effect on shares.
Awww, gee... I'm sure SO many people are heartbroken about this. ;)
Actually, without getting on my soapbox (too late, I'm too short and can't see over the gathering crowd), we should all be thankful for what Mikey did for Disney, WDW, and Disney fans everywhere. The man cam in and revitalized a company that was in need of financial help, and public support. The 90's was truly the "Disney Decade", and he did a number of wonderful things for the company. And next time you go to MGM - thank Mike. :thumbs:
:cry: Mikey leaving? Yes, probably with $200,000,000 of Disney money. :( I read where he is recommending Mr. Iger to replace him. From bad to worse?