Walt Disney said Thursday that Bob Iger is extending his tenure as CEO again.
Set to retire from the entertainment giant in June 2018, Iger has now re-upped his contract until July 2, 2019 amid concerns among industry observers that there is no heir apparent within the company's executive ranks.
"Leading this great company is a tremendous privilege, and I am honored to have been asked to continue serving as CEO through July 2, 2019," Mr. Iger said in a statement. "Even with the incredible success the Company has achieved, I am confident that Disney's best days are still ahead, and I look forward to continuing to build on our proven strategy for growth while working with the Board to identify a successor as CEO and ensure a successful transition."
Former Disney COO Tom Staggs was considered Iger's likely successor until his abrupt departure last spring. At the time of Staggs' exit, the Disney board vowed to "broaden the scope of its succession-planning process to identify and evaluate a robust slate of candidates." It has since been mum about its succession planning. At the time, industry observers mentioned Facebook COO and Disney board member Sheryl Sandberg as a possible candidate.
RELATED: See photos of Iger through his career
Disney CEO Bob Iger
Disney CEO Bob Iger
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 10: The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger attends the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' at the Pantages Theatre on December 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1980: Bob Iger; 4th Annual Friends Finding A Cure Gala Benefiting Project ALS; Walt Disney Studios, CA; 04/29/2004 (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 12: Bob Iger and Willow Bay attending Key To Life Gala at Pierre Hotel. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Bob Iger during 4th Annual Friends Finding A Cure Gala Benefiting Project ALS at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 8: Disney's Bob Iger and writer/producer Mark Zakarin pose at the afterparty for the premiere of Miramax's 'Keeping up with the Steins' at the Pacific Design Center on May 8, 2006 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Bob Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Cie attends the ceremony to honor movie mogul Michael D. Eisner by a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California, April 25, 2008. AFP PHOTO GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 25: Disney's Bob Iger arrives at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's 34th Annual Dinner of Champions held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on September 25, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Robert 'Bob' Iger, president and chief executive officer of Walt Disney Co., leaves the morning session at Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Wednesday, July 6, 2011. Media executives gather at Allen & Co.'s Sun Valley conference this week looking to shed assets such as the Hulu LLC video website and G4 game channel amid a declining global stock market and slowing economic growth. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of Walt Disney Co. attends Unveiling Moment At Barneys New York & Disney Electric Holiday Spectacular With Sarah Jessica Parker, Bob Iger, and Mark Lee on November 14, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Barneys New York)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 04: Chairman and CEO of Conservation International Peter Seligmann and Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company Bob Iger attend Conservation International's 17th Annual Los Angeles Dinner at Montage Beverly Hills on April 4, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)
Robert 'Bob' Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of Walt Disney Co., arrives at the Sun Valley Lodge ahead of the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Billionaires, chief executive officers, and leaders from the technology, media, and finance industries will gather this week at the Idaho mountain resort conference hosted by investment banking firm Allen & Co. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 12: Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company attends the dedication ceremony as ABC News headquarters in New York is proclaimed 'The Barbara Walters Building' ABC News Headquarters Dedication Ceremony on May 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
Robert 'Bob' Iger, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Co., arrives for a morning session during the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Friday, July 10, 2015. Billionaires, chief executive officers, and leaders from the technology, media, and finance industries gather this week at the Idaho mountain resort conference hosted by investment banking firm Allen & Co. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger speaks in front of a model of the new Shanghai Disney Resort during a press event in Shanghai on July 15, 2015. US entertainment giant Disney gave the first detailed preview to the media for its planned theme park in Shanghai, promising Chinese features and new attractions unlike its five other resorts, executives said. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
BOULDER, CO - SEPT 1: THESE PHOTOS ARE EMBARGOED UNTIL 12:01 A.M. FRIDAY, SEPT. 4, 2015. DO NOT PUBLISH UNTIL THEN. Sphero CEO Paul Barbarian show's off his company's new robotic toy based on the droid BB8 from the upcoming new movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Disney president Bob Iger asked the Boulder company to make the toy based on the character from the movie which opens in theaters on Dec. 18, 2015. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Bob Iger holds a press conference at Shanghai Disney Resort in Shanghai on June 15, 2016.
The Magic Kingdom comes to the Middle Kingdom this week when Disney opens its first theme park in mainland China, betting the growing middle class will spend big on leisure despite a slowing economy. / AFP / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
"Given Bob Iger's outstanding leadership, his record of success in a changing media landscape, and his clear strategic vision for Disney's future, it is obvious that the Company and its shareholders will be best served by his continued leadership as the Board conducts the robust process of identifying a successor and ensuring a smooth transition," said Orin C. Smith, Independent Lead Director of the Disney Board.
Otherwise, experts cited industry executives who all seemed happy in their respective jobs, such as NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. Under the leadership of Iger, who turns 66 on Feb. 10, Disney has done well. The company has said that total shareholder return during his tenure has been nearly twice that of other entertainment conglomerates.
Iger's latest extension marks a change of mind for the executive. He originally planned to step down as Disney CEO in 2015 after running the company for a decade. But he extended and then did so again a year later.
Back then, he said about his plans to depart in mid-2018, "I really mean it." Succession at Disney seems a perpetually thorny going back decades when Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Ovitz each jockeyed to take over from Michael Eisner. When Eisner finally stepped down in 2005 it was under such strenuous conditions that even Roy E. Disney, the founder's nephew, was publicly attacking him.
Walt Disney over the years
Walt Disney over the years
UNSPECIFIED - NOVEMBER 27: Walt Disney's father and mother late 19th century (Photo by Apic/Getty Images)
Actor Leslie Howard and producer Walt Disney shake hands after playing in a polo match together.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney (1901-1966), famed orignator of full-length animated motion pictures, at work at his drawing board.
(Original Caption) Portrait of Walter Elias Disney (1901-1966), originator of the vast Disney empire consisting of theme parks, cartoons, and movies. Disney is waving and smiling for the camera in this 3/4 length photograph.
Walt Disney with kittens.
(Original Caption) 2/1942: Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Walt Disney, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, John L. Sullivan, Assistant to the Secretary George Buffington, Disney Artist Joseph Grant, and Disney writer Richard Huemer look over Disney's sketches for 'The New Spirit,' Disney cartoon for the Treasury Department.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney takes an imaginary spin high on an old Eagle racing bike while his daughter, Diane, paces him on an 1870 model tricycle. The bikes are part of a collection in Ford's Edison Museum. Undated photograph.
(Original Caption) Walter E. Disney, famous producer of animated cartoons, is shown with doll replicas of his most famous characters which were responsible for his being conferred an honorary degree of Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University Commencement. President James Bryant Conant made the presentation before 5,800 special guests, alumni, students, faculty and members of the graduating class.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse, with Louis Lumiere, French Grand old man of films, during the former's visit to Paris.
American film producer and creator of Disney World, Walt Disney, holds sheet music with actor Eddy Nelson.
(Original Caption) 1939-Los Angeles, CA- Shirley Temple presents an Academy Award to Walt Disney for his outstanding cartoon, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' one big statue and seven little ones, at the 11th Annual Academy of Motion picture Arts & Sciences dinner.
(Original Caption) Arriving on the Rex is Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse is the animated cartoon character who cavorts his way over the silver sheet much to the delight of America's younger generation.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney learns to do El Gato, one of the colorful and traditional dances of the Argentine countryside. During the survey trip which Disney and a group of his artists made to South America, they spent many hours studying and recording through sketches and photography, the ins and outs of numerous dances and costumes.