No matter if Disney gets 21th Century Fox or not, chairman and CEO Bob Iger will continue to lead the iconic brand’s expansion throughout the world – with a Disneyland now in Shanghai and one day, maybe even a theme park in Saudi Arabia.
In the bidding war between Disney and Comcast for Fox, analysts told Yahoo Finance that they expect Disney to top Comcast’s $65 billion all-cash bid because the Burbank, California-based entertainment giant has room to increase its own offer — and “given chief executive Bob Iger’s proclivity for dealmaking they expect the company to do just that.”
While buying Fox would give Disney the ability “to penetrate international markets more deeply, more effectively,” Iger in April told members of the Council on Foreign Relations that the company would still have no problem entering foreign markets, mainly through its theme parks and movies, which have always had “global appeal” – starting from Walt Disney’s first movie, “Snow White.”
Iger told them that Walt was asked once, “Who do you make movies for?”
“Do you make them for kids? Do you make them for parents? And he said, I make it for—to reach that very special place that everybody has in their hearts. Meaning, he makes—he tells stories, makes movies, to touch people’s hearts,” Iger said.
“If you look at the core values of those stories, the value of hard work, the importance of friendship and family, the fundamental belief that good is going to triumph over evil, a sense of optimism, joy, et cetera and so on — you quickly, I think conclude that, well, if you infuse those in your stories, and that forms the basis of the story, that that will translate culturally across the world,” he added.
More of the world may also get a chance to hobnob with Mickey Mouse and Co. in person. Shanghai now has a Disneyland and when Iger met with Mohammad bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, the new young crown prince told him that he wants a theme park there, too.
Iger told the Council of Foreign Relations that he listened to Salman “with curiosity and somewhat of an open mind.”
“He spoke quite eloquently and vehemently about what he’s trying to accomplish, not only in that part of the world but across the Middle East and in other parts of the world,” Iger said. “He has significant concerns about the spread of Muslim fundamentalism in places like Europe, as a for instance. And after doing so, he made an impassioned plea to me to consider building Disneyland in Saudi Arabia.”
Before becoming Disney’s CEO in 2005, Iger served as president and chief operating officer. He joined the Disney senior management team in 1996 as chairman of the Disney-owned ABC Group, and in 1999 was given the additional responsibility of president, Walt Disney International. In that role, Iger expanded and coordinated Disney’s presence outside of the U.S., establishing the blueprint for the company’s current international growth strategy.
Iger’s rise from a modest upbringing to head one of the world’s most iconic brands still amazes him, he said at that April meeting.
“I actually consider myself a product of a true American Dream,” Iger said. “I was born in Brooklyn, grew up in a lower-middle-class family….I started as a $150-a-week production assistant at ABC and worked my way up, and here I am running I think one of the greatest companies in the world. That’s an unbelievable story.”
CNBC posts some of Iger’s memorable quotes over the years:
“I’m the conscience of the company. We don’t have a chief ethics officer, and I consider that one of my responsibilities,” he says. “No one wants to follow a pessimist…You can be skeptical, you can be realistic, but you can’t be cynical. If your boss is Eeyore, do you want to work with someone like that? Oh, bother.”
And when answering what attributes CEOs need to successfully carry out a company’s vision, Iger starts with “optimism.”
He’s No. 53 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies.
Bob Iger, Chairman & CEO, The Walt Disney Co.
Headquarters: Burbank, CA
Education: Ithaca College
First joined company: 1996
Positions prior to being named CEO: President and Chief Operating Officer from 2000-2005
Named CEO: 2005