- Outgoing Disney Chairman Robert Iger continues to believe that the entertainment giant would have eventually completed a merger with tech powerhouse Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) if founder Steve Jobs had lived.
- Speaking to CNBC in an interview that aired on Tuesday, the former CEO of Disney (NYSE:DIS) reported that he never talked about a potential combination with Jobs, who died in 2011, but that the Apple founder appreciated the benefits of combining "great technology" with "great creativity."
- "I'm pretty convinced we would have had that discussion. ... I think we would have gotten there," Iger said of a potential merger, noting that Jobs became a major DIS shareholder after the Mouse House bought his Pixar animation studio in 2006.
- Iger had previously mentioned the potential Apple merger in a book he published in 2019.
- Discussing the current entertainment landscape, Iger contended that DIS could use broader content offerings for its Disney+ streaming service if it wants to reach its aggressive subscriber expectations
- However, he added that the company as a whole has the necessary scale to achieve its goals.
- "I think [Disney+] needs more volume and there probably needs to be more dimensionality. ... more programming for more people, different demographics," the former Disney CEO said.
- Iger, who plans to step down as DIS chair at the end of the year, quickly added that current CEO Bob Chapek is aware of the need for bulked-up content offerings within the streaming service.
- Asked about whether competing entertainment firms have the scale necessary to dominate the market in the current media landscape, Iger sidestepped the question, but expressed confidence in DIS's ability to compete, given its broad array of assets.
- "I don't know whether others are scaled right or subscaled necessarily. I just think we're well-scaled," he said.
- Commenting on his relationship with Chapek, which has been rumored to be contentious at times, Iger said that shareholders should not worry about any reports of tension, saying of the current CEO "it's his company."
- "The relationship I have with him is not really relevant to how effective he is running the company," Iger said.
- Looking longer-term, Iger argued that Disney (DIS) "can't just maintain a pat hand," urging the company to "continue to evolve" as the state of media changes.
- Asked about his pending departure, the outgoing Disney chair said he wanted to step aside before he outstayed his welcome at the top of the company.
- "I didn't want people to go around saying 'when the heck is he going to leave' ... I'd rather have them say 'gee, did he have to leave when he's leaving,'" he said.
- After lackluster trading through much of the year, DIS tumbled in November following the release of a disappointing earnings report. The decline eventually took the stock to a fresh 52-week low of $142.04.
- The stock has been hovering above that nadir since. On Tuesday, the stock advanced 2.5% to reach $150.15 at about 10:45 a.m. ET.
- Given its recent weakness, DIS has dramatically underperformed the overall market in 2021. The stock has declined 19% since the end of 2020, compared to the 23% gain posted by the S&P 500:
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