Disney's Bob Iger holds firm on hiring freeze, shoots down acquisition talk in first company-wide meeting since return

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Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Iger is ready for the company's next chapter.

On Monday, Iger spoke to Disney employees for the first time since stepping back into the CEO role, fielding questions about his return during a company town hall hosted on the Walt Disney Studio Lot.

Iger revealed there are currently no plans to reverse the hiring freeze implemented by Bob Chapek earlier this month as he continues to evaluate Disney's current cost structure.

Additionally, the executive slammed recent media reports that the company could be acquired by Apple (AAPL), saying it's nothing more than rumors and speculation. Iger added that Disney won’t purse any major acquisitions in the near-term, claiming he's content with the media conglomerate's current set of assets.

Still, Iger acknowledged the declines within linear television, along with the complexities surrounding streaming profitability. Iger noted a strategic shift towards profits is currently underway.

During the Q&A portion of the town hall, Iger reiterated his commitment to inclusion, although he admitted that Disney's special tax district, which Florida Governor Ron DeSantis revoked last spring, is also important to the company.

Disney cast member Nicholas Maldonado, who attended Monday's meeting, said although he was disheartened by Iger's hiring comments, said he feels uplifted overall given Iger's willingness to speak with employees.

"It's great to have him back," Maldonado told Yahoo Finance, adding he hopes Iger will continue to address "major issues" that occurred during Chapek's tenure, such as the "Don't Say Gay" controversy back in March.

Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger attends the European premiere of
Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger attends the European premiere of "The Lion King" in London, Britain July 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Monday's town hall comes as Iger gave investors a taste of what seems to be the first step in a strategy to turn around the fortunes of Disney's streaming business — firing Kareem Daniel and restructuring Disney's Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED) division.

DMED was one of Chapek's first big swings as chief executive, but the reorganization was categorized as a controversial move that upset longtime veterans and reportedly "confused" workers.

Chapek's departure comes just months after Disney's board of directors unanimously voted in June to extend his contract for another three years, through 2025. At the time, the board noted Chapek's leadership was essential in helping the company overcome pandemic headwinds.

Nevertheless, Chapek's tenure was riddled in controversy and the ever-looming shadow of Iger, who spoke out against some of Chapek's decisions.

According to the company, Iger will serve as CEO for two years, with a mandate from the company's board to "set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term."

Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Media Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her at alexandra.canal@yahoofinance.com

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