MONEY & BUSINESS: Disney execs think Bob Iger’s ‘end game’ is sell to Apple
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 himself wrote: “I believe that if Steve were still alive, we would have combined our companies, or at least discussed the possibility very seriously.”
However, besides the fact that Apple has rarely made acquisitions as large as the Disney-Pixar deal — its largest was back in 2014, when it paid $1 billion for Beats Music and Beats Electronics — there’s the question of whether the mega-merger would get regulatory approval.
Representatives from Disney and Apple didn’t immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
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 this summer extended his contract through 2026, marking the fifth time his departure as CEO has been pushed back.
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.
Rumors have swirled that he may spin off ABC, too.
Disney is also reportedly considering a new strategy for its linear television properties, which have been affected by dwindling audiences and the rise of cord-cutting.