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Bob Iger to step down as Disney CEO, effective immediately

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Bob Iger will step down as Disney CEO and assume the role of executive chairman, Disney announced Tuesday.

Bob Chapek, who most recently served as chairman of Disney parks, experiences and products, will assume the role of CEO, effective immediately, Disney announced. Chapek will continue to report to Iger and be appointed to the board of directors at a later date.

Shares of Disney fell about 2.5% after hours.

In an interview with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin after Disney’s announcement, Iger said the CEO reporting structure is a way to ensure a smooth transition.

“We’re not concerned at all about creating any confusion,” Iger said of the arrangement.

Iger will remain executive chairman of Disney through the end of 2021, according to the company. Iger had been planning his succession for a while, saying at Disney’s investor day last year that “2021 will be the time for me to finally step down.” Iger has been CEO of Disney since 2005. He’s pushed back his retirement several times in recent years, and Tuesday’s succession announcement came as a surprise.

On a call with investors shortly after the announcement, Iger addressed the timing of his announcement, which happened 22 months before he was expected to retire at the end of 2021. Iger said he decided to step down now because he wanted to focus on the creative side now that major projects like the Fox merger and launch of Disney+ were behind him. Iger said he would be able to help transition Chapek into the role while serving as executive chairman.

“With everything else falling into place, the time seemed right,” Iger said.

Iger has been instrumental in making Disney a media powerhouse with key acquisitions and content plays. He launched Disney+, immediately making Disney a popular streaming service provider. Disney said the service had 26.5 million paying subscribers during the first quarter of 2020 after launching in November.

Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Experiences, stands for a photograph at an unveiling event of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney Co.’s Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California, U.S., on Wednesday, May 29, 2019.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Iger has beefed up Disney’s already-strong content library with several important acquisitions. Most recently, he ushered through Disney’s $71 billion acquisition of Fox’s entertainment business, which would add even more content to its streaming library. Earlier he added Star Wars and Marvel movies through its acquisitions of Lucasfilm and Marvel Entertainment, each for about $4 billion. Shortly into his tenure as CEO, Iger announced Disney’s $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios, which made popular films like “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo” before becoming part of Disney.

Iger also launched a theme park in Shanghai, further expanding Disney’s footprint across the globe and gaining 11 million visitors in its first year.

“With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of Twenty-First Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO,” Iger said in a statement alongside the announcement.

Chapek told investors that he has already had some exposure to the media and direct-to-consumer businesses in which he has not been directly involved in the past because Iger has encouraged his direct reports to interact.

“While I certainly have an opportunity to immerse myself more inside those media businesses, I have a bit of fluency, just like my peers have some fluency in our business,” Chapek said.

“That’s my sweet spot, and that is something I could leverage now throughout all my experiences not only at Disney, but even before Disney, in terms of figuring how we take the data, the information, the technology, and once again our storytelling, right direct to the consumer so that we can take all the great equities we have and continue to build those for our shareholders,” Chapek said later in his interview on CNBC.

Chapek said he envisions his role as CEO to be continuing to work on the “strategic pillars” established by Iger, especially Disney’s direct-to-consumer initiatives, “but at the same time look around the corner at what’s going on in the marketplace that would necessitate a fresh look at those things.”

“Right now the course that Bob has laid is one that we fully intend to follow and I think will pay dividends to shareholders for years to come,” Chapek said.

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WATCH: Timing ‘surprising’ says senior analyst on Bob Iger stepping down

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Trump extends social distancing guidelines through April 30

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US President Donald Trump speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 29, 2020.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the national social distancing guidelines to April 30 in effort to keep the projected coronavirus death toll in the U.S. from reaching a catastrophic, worst-case scenario. 

Trump’s announcement walked back his previous remarks that he wanted the country to reopen for business by Easter. Public health experts have warned that loosening restrictions by Easter, on April 12, would result in unnecessary death and economic damage. 

“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory has been won,” Trump said at an evening press briefing after suggesting that the coronavirus death rate would likely peak in two weeks. The president claimed Sunday that Easter was just an “aspiration” and he hopes the country will “be well on our way to recovery” by June 1.

Trump said his administration was extending the guidelines in order to avoid a major death toll. The president pointed to modeling that forecast 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. if drastic measures weren’t taken to mitigate the outbreak. Trump said the administration is working to keep the projected death toll below 100,000.   

“So if we can hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000, it’s a horrible number, maybe even less, but to 100,000, so we have between 100 and 200,000, we all together have done a very good job,” Trump said.

Earlier in the day, White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country could see up to 200,000 deaths and millions of infections, though he cautioned that the numbers are based on models and nothing is certain. 

There are about 140,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., and at least 2,400 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

While Trump can issue federal guidelines, the president doesn’t have the power to decide if the country can reopen, since those decisions are being made by governors on a state-by-state basis. The Trump administration’s guidance advises people to stay mostly at home and avoid groups of more than 10. 

States across the country have ordered residents to stay mostly indoors, and schools, restaurants and other businesses have shuttered. The CDC has urged New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents to avoid non-essential travel for 14 days.

Trump also alleged on Sunday that hospitals and healthcare workers were hoarding ventilators, which are in scarce supply across the country. The president cited no evidence to back up the claim and it was not clear what facilities he was referring to. 

City and state officials have consistently called for more medical supplies as hospitals see a major influx of patients. 

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Covid-19 affects hearts of even those without any cardiac condition: Study

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Coronavirus can cause cardiac injury even in patients without underlying heart conditions, and have fatal consequences for people with cardiovascular disease, according to a review of studies.


Experts have known that viral illnesses such as Coronavirus (Covid-19) can cause respiratory infections that may lead to lung damage and even death in severe cases.


However, less is known about the effects on the cardiovascular system, the researchers said.


“It is likely that even in the absence of previous heart disease, the heart muscle can be affected by coronavirus disease,” said Mohammad Madjid, an assistant professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) in the US.


“Overall, injury to heart muscle can happen in any patient with or without heart disease, but the risk is higher in those who already have heart disease,” said Madjid, lead author of the study published in the journal JAMA Cardiology.


The team explained that research from previous coronavirus and influenza epidemics suggests that viral infections can cause acute coronary syndromes, arrhythmias, and the development of, or exacerbation of, heart failure.


In a clinical bulletin issued by the American College of Cardiology, it was revealed that the case fatality rate of COVID-19 for patients with cardiovascular disease was 10.5 per cent, the researchers said.


Data also points to a greater likelihood that individuals over the age of 65 with coronary heart disease or hypertension can contract the illness, as well experience more severe symptoms that will require critical care, they said.


According to the study, critical cases are those that reported respiratory failure, septic shock, and multiple organ dysfunction or failure that resulted in death.


“It is reasonable to expect that significant cardiovascular complications linked to COVID-19 will occur in severe symptomatic patients because of the high inflammatory response associated with this illness,” said Madjid.



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F1 pitches in with ventilator production – Formula One Group (NASDAQ:FWONA)

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Britain has ordered more than 10,000 ventilators from a consortium that includes Formula One (NASDAQ:FWONA), Airbus (OTCPK:EADSY), BAE Systems (OTCPK:BAESY) and Ford (NYSE:F), as well as existing ventilator producers, Smiths Group (OTCPK:SMGZY) and Penlon.

Vacuum cleaner maker Dyson said last week it had received an order of a newly-made ventilator which will need to be approved by the health regulator.

The U.K., which says it needs 30,000 ventilators, currently has about 8,000 machines with another 8,000 on order from international manufacturers that are due in coming weeks.



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