Ejecting Ike Perlmutter “Was A Necessary Step,” Disney CEO Bob Iger Tells Time Magazine

Isaac Perlmutter’s time at Disney had run its course and the former Marvel Entertainment chairman’s removal “was a necessary step in the direction of us creating a more efficient company,” CEO Bob Iger said. He said the decision was not due to Perlmutter’s support of activist investor Nelson Peltz.

“I’d rather not get into details about this one. …There was redundancy specific to the way Marvel was being managed,” Iger said in the cover interview with Time for its 100 Most Influential People edition.

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Perlmutter was let go March 29 as Disney began cutting 7,000 jobs in a massive staff overhaul and $5.5 billion cost-cutting push. Marvel Entertainment – which is separate from the Kevin Feige-run Marvel Studios business — will be folded into other parts of the Disney corporate umbrella. Perlmutter’s oversight included comic book publishing, game licensing and arena shows.

Perlmutter spoke out a week ago, saying he’d been fired for insisting on fiscal discipline and supporting Peltz, who waged a very public proxy fight with Disney for months but withdrew himself as a board candidate before the annual meeting after Disney announced the streamlining measures.

Iger told Time the decision to remove Perlmutter “would have been made regardless of that.”

He also addressed Florida, Hulu and succession.

Comcast has “the right to put their piece [of Hulu] to us, in other words, force us to buy them out. If they decide to do that, then we have no choice but to buy them out.” The put-call deadline for the joint owners of the streaming service is early next year.

He reiterated Disney’s value to the state of Florida, turning swampland “into a business that employs over 75,000 people, that is visited by tens of millions of people every year, that is a major tourist destination in the United States, and for the state of Florida, that creates huge value for our company and its employees, and for the state of Florida itself. Our sole goal in Florida is to continue creating that value for all those constituencies.”

Florida lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis last year stripped Disney of long-held jurisdiction over a big swatch of land in and around Walt Disney World in Orlando – or thought they had. An oversight board seated by Disney, in one of its last acts, signed an agreement that neutralized state control. The move was public but surprised the new state-appointed board when they discovered it. DeSantis vowed to fight back and “win on every single issue.” The brawl started when former CEO Bob Chapek publicly opposed a Florida law critics call “Don’t Say Gay” that prohibits public schools from referencing sexual orientation or gender identity through the third grade.

Iger told Time his line is open. “If the governor of Florida wants to meet with me to discuss all of this, of course, I would be glad to do that,” he said. “You know, I’m one that typically has respected our elected officials and the responsibility that they have, and there would be no reason why I wouldn’t do that.”

Iger returned in November with a two-year contract, replacing Chapek. He promised succession will be handled more carefully this time around. It “will get more time, more attention, more focus than it did before. We’ve always viewed it as an important decision. But given the fact that I’m not here forever and we had some difficulties these last couple of years, it’s getting more attention than it has in the past.”

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