After a decade of running Walt Disney Co., CEO and chairman Bob Iger shows no signs of flagging. On March 12, Disney said it would make a sequel to Frozen, the top-grossing animated movie of all time–and announced plans for Star Wars spin-offs beyond a new trilogy. Disney’s fiscal-2014 revenue of $48.8 billion marked a record for the company.
• CLAIMS TO FAME
Iger started his career as a local-TV weatherman and rose through the ranks at ABC (now owned by Disney). He survived the tumultuous reign of his predecessor, Michael Eisner, and since taking the top job in 2005 has transformed Disney into the world’s largest entertainment company. From 2006 to 2012, he acquired Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm–enlarging Disney’s stable of lucrative intellectual property–and boosted the firm’s moribund parks business.
• CURRENT CHALLENGES
Iger, who had planned to retire in 2016, will stay on until 2018. Until then, he must secure his legacy by pulling off a smooth CEO transition at a company mindful of pre-Iger turmoil.
• BIGGEST CHAMPION
Shareholders, who often line up to ask him questions at annual meetings. Under Iger, Disney has seen total shareholder returns of 341%, compared with 104% for the S&P 500 over the same period.
• BIGGEST OBSTACLE
Keeping international expansion humming. The opening of the $5.5 billion Shanghai Disney resort has slipped and is now set for early 2016.
• CAN HE DO IT?
Yes. Though big-ticket acquisitions rarely deliver the promised returns, Iger’s deals have paid off handsomely. He has proved himself a master at balancing Disney’s various businesses. Choosing someone who can do so after him will be more complicated.
This appears in the March 30, 2015 issue of TIME.
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