By Alexandra Steigrad, NY Post
Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger on Wednesday announced a sweeping corporate restructuring that will slash 7,000 jobs as part of an effort to achieve $5.5 billion in cost savings.
The Mouse House, which is under pressure to turn a profit from its global streaming business, said it would reorganize into three segments: an entertainment unit that encompasses film, television and streaming; a sports-focused ESPN unit; and Disney parks, experiences and products.
“I do not make this decision lightly,” Iger said on Wednesday’s conference call with investors, regarding the cuts.
Iger outlined the cost-cutting plan to investors during the company’s fiscal first-quarter earnings call, in which Disney reported adjusted earnings per share of 99 cents, ahead of the average analyst estimate of 78 cents, according to Refinitiv data.
Net income came in at $1.279 billion, below analyst estimates of $1.429 billion. Revenue hit $23.512 billion, ahead of Wall Street estimates of $23.4 billion.
Iger said he planned to cut $2.5 billion in sales and general administrative expenses and other operating costs, an effort that is already under way. Another $3 billion in savings would come from reductions in non-sports content, including the layoffs.
“There’s a lot to accomplish but let me be clear, this is my No. 1 priority,” said Iger, touting the importance of streaming and returning value to shareholders.
Disney shares, which closed at $111, bounced up by more than $10 in after-market trading immediately after the announcement.
Disney is the latest media company to announce job cuts in response to slowing subscriber growth and increased competition for streaming viewers.
Warner Bros Discovery Inc and Netflix Inc previously underwent layoffs.
Disney earlier reported its first quarterly decrease in subscriptions for its Disney+ streaming media unit, which lost more than $1 billion. Activist investor Nelson Peltz is fighting to join Disney’s board, arguing the company has overspent on streaming and fumbled succession planning.
The last time Disney made cuts was during the height of the pandemic, when it announced in November 2020 that it would lay off 32,000 workers, primarily at its theme parks. The cuts took place in the first half of fiscal 2021.
The reorganization marks a new chapter in the leadership of Iger, whose first tenure as CEO began in 2005. He went on to fortify Disney with a roster of powerful entertainment brands, acquiring Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm. A decade later, Iger repositioned the company to capitalize on the streaming revolution, acquiring 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets in 2019 and launching the Disney+ streaming service that fall.
Now, Iger will seek to put Disney’s streaming business on a path to growth and profitability. The new structure also makes good on Iger’s promise to restore decision-making to the company’s creative leaders, who will determine what movies and series to make and how the content will be distributed and marketed.
This marks Disney’s third restructuring in five years. It reorganized its business in 2018 to accelerate the growth of its streaming business, and again in 2020, to further spur streaming’s growth.
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But they are reinstating the dividend…