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Outgoing Disney CEO Bob Chapek likely to leave with at least $23 million

Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek in 2021.
Bob Chapek’s contract entitles him to collect a salary for the full duration of his term, which was recently extended to mid-2025, even if he’s ousted prematurely.
(Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

Bob Chapek leaves Walt Disney Co.’s top job with exit payments and benefits that could be worth more than $23 million. And that’s not including the millions more he could collect in the coming years if the company’s share price recovers.

The amount is based on calculations by Bloomberg News using disclosures from regulatory filings. Disney hasn’t yet publicly revealed the financial terms of the chief executive officer’s departure, and a representative didn’t respond to a request for comment sent outside normal business hours.

Chapek’s contract entitles him to collect a salary for the full duration of his term, even if he’s ousted prematurely. His term was recently extended to mid-2025, and the paychecks between now and then add up to roughly $6.5 million.

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He’s also entitled to the pension he’s accumulated over his decades-long career at Disney. As of October 2021, filings show it stood at $16.9 million. That money is his, regardless of the circumstances of his departure.

As for the rest, he probably will get more, but it’s unclear just how much.

He holds a trove of Disney stock options, most of which are underwater. If he had sold the shares at Friday’s U.S. market close, he would have collected around $3.5 million.

He also holds stock awards he received in prior years that haven’t yet vested. Some of them will probably continue to vest even though he’s no longer at Disney. How much they’ll be worth — and how many shares he’ll receive — will depend on the stock’s ’ trajectory after plunging 41% this year. If they pick back up, both the stock and the options will swell in value.

Disney shares jumped 8.7% to $99.82 at 9:32 a.m. in New York, the most intraday since Aug. 11.

Finally, Chapek has a so-called nonqualified deferred compensation plan, which is akin to a super-sized 401(k) that many large companies set up for high-earning employees. It usually lets them invest some of their earnings into a selection of equity and bond funds. Around a year ago, Chapek had about $8.5 million in his plan, a figure that has likely changed given the recent market volatility.

For now, hardly any of this is etched in stone. It’s not uncommon for boards to strike bespoke exit agreements with CEOs, especially in contentious situations where they are cutting the person’s contract short. And if a board concludes that a CEO broke company policy or didn’t fulfill the commitments of their employment agreement, it may decline to pay the person at all. (Disney’s statement announcing Chapek’s departure and the reinstatement of his predecessor, Bob Iger, didn’t provide reasons for the switch.)

While Chapek’s payout by most measures is a generous one, it’s far from the rich entitlements that some chiefs in the entertainment industry have enjoyed in the past.

When Chapek took over as CEO in 2020, the board set his target pay in the bottom quartile for media chiefs. The move followed years of controversy over Disney’s executive compensation, where everyone from shareholders to lawmakers and a Disney family heir had derided Iger’s pay.


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