Although he may face strong competition from rivals outside the company, Walt Disney Co. president/COO Robert Iger was assured by Disney's board of directors yesterday (Sept. 21) that he is the only i

Although he may face strong competition from rivals outside the company, Walt Disney Co. president/COO Robert Iger was assured by Disney's board of directors yesterday (Sept. 21) that he is the only in-house candidate being considered to replace Michael Eisner as CEO.

The Disney board offered a general outline of how it intends to proceed with selecting a successor for Eisner by June. The announcement came a little more than a week after Eisner made it known that he will resign Sept. 30, 2006, when his contract ends.

"We believe that Bob Iger is the only internal candidate. ... We do not anticipate any other internal candidates being considered," board chairman George Mitchell said in response to reporters' questions following the release of a board statement yesterday afternoon. Mitchell also announced that, pursuant to Disney's mandatory retirement age of 72 for directors, he will not stand for re-election to the board at the shareholders meeting in early 2006, following next year's meeting.

The board said it expects to announce a new CEO by June. Asked whether it could happen sooner, Mitchell said that while it is possible, "we've concluded this is the amount of time that is most likely needed."

Mitchell added that though the board did not explicitly make a decision about keeping the roles of CEO and chairman separate in the future, the expectation for now is that the two posts will remain separated. Eisner relinquished the chairman title in the face of shareholder criticism and a more than 40% withhold vote by shareholders for his re-election to the Disney board in March.

Most of the possible Disney CEO candidates discussed in the media since Eisner served notice have been from outside the company. There are several Disney alumni among the outside candidates who have been widely talked about, including Comcast COO Steve Burke and Gap Inc. CEO Paul Pressler.

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