Disney CEO departs Apple’s board with video showdown looming

Robert Iger has been involved with Apple since 2006, when he helped Disney buy Pixar. (AFP)
Updated 14 September 2019

Disney CEO departs Apple’s board with video showdown looming

  • Both Apple and Disney are taking aim at the rapidly growing video streaming market that Netflix pioneered.

SAN FRANCISCO: Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger has stepped down from Apple’s board of directors as the two companies prepare to launch competing video streaming services aimed at market leader Netflix.

Apple disclosed Iger’s departure in a regulatory filing, but his resignation became effective on Tuesday. 

That was the same day that Apple announced that its long-awaited video streaming service will debut on Nov. 1 and cost only $5 per month, less than half the price of Netflix’s most popular plan.

Disney is gearing up to launch a video streaming service for $7 per month later in November.

The competing services raised potential conflicts of interest that apparently prompted Iger to step down after spending nearly eight years on Apple’s board.

Apple praised Iger as an “exemplary” board member and one of its “most trusted business partners” in a statement.

Iger responded in kind. “Apple is one of the world’s most admired companies, known for the quality and integrity of its products and its people, and I am forever grateful to have served as a member of the company’s board,” he said in a statement.

Iger, 68, became involved with Apple in 2006 when he negotiated a $7.4 billion deal to buy computer animation studio Pixar, a company run by Steve Jobs. That made the Apple co-founder Disney’s largest shareholder, and Jobs took a seat on Disney’s board, which he held until his death in 2011.

Both companies are taking aim at the rapidly growing video streaming market — a field that Netflix pioneered along the way to amassing more than 150 million subscribers worldwide. But the intensifying competition could slow Netflix’s growth, a threat that came into sharper focus earlier this summer when the company disclosed its first quarterly decline in U.S. subscribers since 2011.

Without elaborating, Apple said its relationship with Iger and Disney will continue “far into the future.”

The Cupertino, California, company didn’t say whether it intends to replace Iger on what is now a seven-member board.


Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

Updated 09 August 2020

Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

  • Aramco see’s “partial recovery” from pandemic impact
  • Aramco president says company remains resilient

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, reported a net income of $6.57bn for the second quarter of 2020, the period which witnessed the most volatile oil market conditions for many decades.

The result, announced to the Tadawul stock exchange in Riyadh where the shares are listed, compared with income of $24.7 bn last year.

Amin Nasser, president and chief executive, said: “Despite COVID-19 bringing the world to a standstill, Aramco kept going. We have proven our financial resilience and operational reliability, setting a record in our business operations, while at the same time taking steps to ensure the health and safety of our people.”

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Aramco’s dividend - a big attraction for the investors who bought into the world’s biggest initial public offering last year - will remain as pledged, Nasser added. Cash flow in the quarter amounted to $6.106 bn.

““Strong headwinds from reduced demand and lower oil prices are reflected in our second quarter results. Yet we delivered solid earnings because of our low production costs, unique scale, agile workforce, and unrivalled financial and operational strength. This helped us deliver on our plan to maintain a second quarter dividend of $18.75 billion to be paid in the third quarter,” he said.

Aramco said the loss was “mainly reflecting the impact of lower crude oil prices and declining refining and chemicals margins, partly offset by a decrease in production royalties resulting from lower crude oil prices and a decrease in the royalty rate from 20 per cent to 15 per cent, lower income taxes and zakat as a result of lower earnings, and higher other income related to sales for gas products.”

Sales and revenue in the period - which saw oil prices collapse on “Black Monday” in April - fell 57 per cent to $32.861 bn from the comparable period last year. 

Nasser said he was cautiously optimistic that the world economy was slowly recovering from the depths of the pandemic lockdowns.

“We are seeing a partial recovery in the energy market as countries around the world take steps to ease restrictions and reboot their economies. Meanwhile, we continue to place people’s safety first and have adapted to the new normal, implementing wide-ranging precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 wherever we operate.

“We are determined to emerge from the pandemic stronger and will continue making progress on our long-term strategic journey, through ongoing investments in our business – which has one of the lowest upstream carbon footprints in the world,” he added.

Aramco expects capital expenditure to be at the lower end of the $25bn to $30bn range it has already indicated for this year.