U.S. Markets open in 2 hrs 58 mins

Disney's Iger Quits Apple Board as Streaming Rivalry Heats Up

Mark Gurman

(Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger resigned from Apple Inc.’s board, a sign of increased competition between the entertainment and technology giants.

Apple said in a Friday regulatory filing that Iger quit on Tuesday. He had served as a director since 2011 and was a friend of Steve Jobs. The Apple co-founder was also a Disney board member until he died in 2011. The duo appeared on stage more than a decade ago to announce an iTunes partnership.

The relationship between the two companies became more fraught after Apple expanded into original TV shows and movies, making the Cupertino, California-based company a potent new rival for Disney. That had put Iger’s role on Apple’s board in doubt.

On Tuesday -- the same day Iger resigned from the board -- Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company’s TV+ service would launch Nov. 1 for $4.99 a month, undercutting the upcoming Disney+ offering. The announcement dented Disney shares.

In an April interview with Bloomberg TV, Iger said he was careful to recuse himself at Apple board meetings whenever the topic of streaming video came up. He added that the topic “has not been discussed all that much” by the Apple directors, because it was relatively small and nascent. “So far it’s been OK,” he said. “I’m in constant discussion about it.”

“It has been an extraordinary privilege to have served on the Apple board for eight years, and I have the utmost respect for Tim Cook, his team at Apple and for my fellow board members,” Iger said in an emailed statement.

His departure leaves Apple with seven board members. The average board has 10.8 directors, according to a 2018 analysis of companies in the S&P 500 index by Spencer Stuart, a consulting firm that provides executive search and board-related services.

--With assistance from Christopher Palmeri.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Mark Milian

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.