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Walt Disney CEO Iger meets with employees, hiring freeze stays in effect

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Disney CEO Bob Iger on Monday held his first meeting with employees following his return to the top role at the mass media and entertainment company and told them the hiring freeze will remain in effect.

The hiring freeze was put into place by Iger's predecessor, Bob Chapek. Iger replaced his handpicked success last week following a disappointing earnings report that caused Disney's board to lose confidence in Chapek. Iger had chosen Chapek as his replacement after his first stint as CEO, which ran from 2005 to 2020.

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Iger said the ongoing hiring freeze "was a wise thing to do in terms of the challenges, and at the moment, I don't have any plans to change it."

During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, Iger fielded a question about Disney making acquisitions in the near term and told employees "don't expect any headlines soon about deals."

Disney Bob Iger

Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger attends the Exclusive 100-Minute Sneak Peek of Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back at El Capitan Theatre on Nov. 18, 2021 in Hollywood, Calif. (Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Disney / Getty Images)

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Iger didn't comment specifically on rumors that the owner of Marvel, Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Film Corporation could be purchased by Apple or another company, and dismissed those reports as "pure speculation not rooted in any fact."

The profitability of Disney's streaming platforms was a point of emphasis in the meeting. The chief executive said the company will pivot from focusing on growing subscriptions to "chasing profitability" and that doing so will require a focus on how much is being spent on content production and marketing the platforms. 

Disney previously said that direct-to-consumer revenues for the quarter ended Oct. 1 increased 8% to $4.9 billion and the operating loss increased $0.8 billion to $1.5 billion. The increase in operating loss was due to a higher loss at Disney+ and a decrease in results at Hulu, partially offset by improved results at ESPN+.

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The Walt Disney Company

 
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Aside from the hiring freeze, cost-cutting measures across Disney's businesses will include greater scrutiny of employee travel and other expenses, although Iger didn't bring up potential layoffs, which Chapek previously warned about before his ouster.

Iger discussed the "restructuring" plan outlined in a memo he sent to employees last week, and reiterated that it will take time to transition to the new structure. 

Disney

Disney Dreamer Rose “Rosie” Warfield looks on during the Disney Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World Resort on March 05, 2022 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  (Al Bello/Getty Images for Disney Dreamers Academy / Getty Images)

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He previously tapped four executives to lead the restructuring: Disney General Entertainment Chair Dana Walden; Disney Studios Content Chair Alan Bergman; ESPN and Sports Content Chair Jimmy Pitaro; and Disney CFO Christine McCarthy.

Disney did not respond to a request for comment from Fox Business.

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