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tv   The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations  Bloomberg  December 2, 2020 9:00pm-9:31pm EST

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this is my kitchen table and also my filing system. the past three decades, i've been an investor. the highest calling of mankind, i thought, was private equity. then i started interviewing. i learned how leaders make it to the top. >> i asked him how much he wanted. i said fine, i didn't negotiate. david: and how he stayed there. >> you don't feel inadequate
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now, is that right? david: over the past 15 years, one of the most successful ceo's in the world has been bob iger. he led disney to its greatest heights, increasing the market value by 400%. he did that through acquisitions of 21st century fox, lucasfilm, pixar, and marvel entertainment. what is he going to do next? during the time that you were the ceo, the stock market value of the company went up about 450% and the market -- my big regret is that i didn't back you and buy stock, but you must be very pleased with what you accomplished. proud would probably be the right word to use. i inherited a company that was renowned and had been quite successful, but had also gone
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through a period of difficulty. there was a lot of work to do. to not only improve the company, but to ultimately leave the company in great hands for my successor. david: you weren't as successful in leaving the company. you wanted to leave a few years earlier and the board said you had to stay longer. why were you so good at running a company but not so good at leaving the company? bob: i am told that is a common ailment of ceo's that have had decent tenure. had arst time, we succession process that didn't work out. i agreed to stay on a little longer. the last time was due to the largest acquisition we had ever made, 21st century fox.
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proposed doing that to the board, they would say, we will support you in this effort. go throught want to a ceo transition just at the time. david: it was rumored in the press and in your book that you were thinking of leaving disney to run for president of the united states. who ever heard of a businessman running for president of the united states? where did you get that idea from? bob: there is some truth to that. before and after the 16 election, i gave it some serious thought. actually did a fair amount of homework. gotten sure i would have as far as actually running. as the realist in me was sinking
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in, i was starting to think more about how difficult the path might be in the democratic party for a businessman to get the nomination. say is the would you chance you would be interested positiong in a senior in the biden administration? bob: i've always thought about what the next chapter in my life might be. disneyill be a post soon. fashion,ck in some serving our country in some fashion, is certainly something i would consider. it would depend on what the opportunity is and whether i would be stimulated and be good at it. david: let's go back to the disney situation. you announced you are going to step down at the end of 2019. then covid comes along.
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did covid make it possible for you to leave the same way you thought or do you have to spend more time at disney? down from the ceo position. energys all my time and on the creative process. is theht, what we create most valuable. i thought the best thing i could do in terms of enabling my successor was to hand them a rich pipeline of creativity. timespent almost all my since i stepped into this role doing just that. however, i wanted to make sure we were successful in other respects as well. so i wanted to make sure i was
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there for him, to help him through what is a particularly challenging time, not only for the world, but specifically for our company. he has been the ceo. he's been running the company from the day he stepped into that role. i feel confident that he will do a good job. hardestone of the things is, in passing the baton -- in a situation where i was going to continue as an employee, i expected to spend more time with him. that obviously has not happened. david: if somebody was an outsider and they say, covid is hitting the united states and other places, the kind of companies that aren't going to do well are the theme park
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business, the live entertainment business, the hotel business, and those are all the businesses they are in. you have beennk as hard-hit financially? bob: i think the reason our stock has been resilient and the company has been resilient is extremely solid footing as a company going into this. i think, knowing that we've been effective, but also realizing that when it ends, we will have the ability to rebound in a significant way. that, the direct to consumer digital entertainment direction. we launched disney plus, espn plus, the acquisition of 21st
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century fox, so we moved into a space that is not only very but one that the investment community is looking at very positively. david: how did a nice jewish boy from new york wind up running disney? > ♪
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david: so how did a nice jewish boy from new york wind up running disney? you grew up in the new york area, right? bob: i grew up in relatively modest background, lower middle class. my dad was a well-educated man but suffered from terrible manic-depression.
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it made it difficult to hold a job. my mother became employed at a high school library later on in my childhood. it was a modest background, but i never felt poor and i never felt deprived of anything. david: your parents didn't say, you need to be a lawyer or a doctor? bob: there was a little bit of a push for me to be a doctor, but no. they were pretty good at letting me pursue whatever my dreams were. my dreams early on were to become walter cronkite or a television news person. when ie a weatherman left college for a local tv station. i lost confidence in myself and
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my ability to fulfill that dream. and took a job behind the scenes in production. david: you could have been our ocher. bob: that is true. itease every once in a while, will go into one of our tv stations and worn them that my next job might be theirs. initially, you were doing some production at abc. eventually you went into the sports area. did you think your career was going to be running abc sports? bob: that would have been fine with me. there are a number of steps along the way. i would have been fine with that. i would have loved to be president of abc sports. interestingly, i never got that opportunity.
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they sent me out to l.a. to run the entertainment division of abc for prime time programming, which is a huge step into an area of the business that i had very little familiarity with. well, you are doing very then abc says, we want you to come back to new york. did you want to go back to new york at that point? bob: i was ready. i had done my stint in l.a. but i was ready to go back to new york. now you are the big shot. you are running the whole company. we of a sudden, guess what, are going to sell the company to disney. was that something you were happy with? bob: it was an incredible time. it was the summer of 1995.
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i had been told by tom murphy that i was coo, which was great. warren buffett was our largest shareholder. us and eisner approached made an offer that not only we felt we couldn't refuse, but we felt was in the best interest of the shareholders and the company. in the back of my mind, even though michael made it clear ,hat it was never a guarantee if i performed well, i could potentially run the disney company at some point. david: eventually michael eisner decides to retire. lookoard says, we have to for somebody to run the company. did they call you up and say, it is your job? contestittle beauty would be an understatement.
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we had gone through a tough period of time. the board felt, and rightfully so, that they had to be expansive in their thinking about who the next ceo should be. they created a true contest. they interviewed outside candidates. they said to me that i was the only inside candidate. guarantee,s it not a it was less likely that i would get it. they seemed intent on bringing change to the company. they felt it was needed. as the insider, i actually had the outside track. david: eventually they call you up and say the job is yours. your stock is up about 400 plus percent. did anybody ever call you up and say, we are sorry we made you go
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through that process? we are sorryaid, we made you go through the process. occasions, board members were very generous in their complement of me and to me and the job i was doing. looking back, they thought they made the right decision. the numbers speak for themselves. a lot of that was due to strategy. i discussed some of the things i wanted to accomplish and being able to execute that strategy over the years. ♪
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david: disney had a complicated relationship with pixar. how did you convince steve jobs to sell you pixar? bob: we paid over $7 billion for pixar. away, ithat i had right brought that idea to the board, which i'm not sure was the right way to start. but we had gone through a time
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where disney animation had been faltering. almost a decade. we had a lot of success with pixar in what was basically a joint venture with them. and steve jobs told us publicly, meaning he made an announcement, that the pixar relationship with disney would end. animationt disney needed huge improvement and i thought the fastest way to accomplish that was to buy pixar. not only to bring pixar in as part of the company, but to bring the executives in and have them turn disney animation around. that was my pitch to the board. it took from october to january two convince them it was the right thing.
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had.d up all the i i also was able to convince steve jobs that it was a good idea. when the notion came to me, i was quite nervous. i got on my phone and said, i've got a crazy idea i want to talk to you about. i don't know how well you knew steve, but anyone who knew steve would know that if you said, i have a crazy idea, he would have to hear it right away. phonee me tell him on the what i had in mind. he said, it is not that crazy. why don't you come up and we will talk about it? that led to a very interesting discussion with him on the subject of us playing pixar and steve becoming largest shareholder of the walt disney company.
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right before the disney board is about to approve the acquisition, he tells you that he has cancer. did you ever think about ?hanging campus were on the pixar , basically preparing for the announcement, and he said, can we go for a walk? he said he was going to tell me something only his wife and doctors knew, and that was the cancer that had come back in a different form. he wanted me to know because he wanted to give me a chance to back out of the deal. that is when i looked at my watch. it was 30 minutes before we were announcing a deal. it is not like i had an opportunity to phone anybody and ask for their advice.
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i made a decision kind of on the spot, that we were buying pixar. important to the acquisition, he was not material to the pixar deal itself. i thought i was exercising the right responsibility as ceo of the company and asked the shareholders ultimately to approve a large acquisition. off we went to make the announcement with me carrying that incredibly heavy news. it was a secret that held for a few years. that was in early 2006. and he lived until october of 2011. so i had the benefit of, not only his friendship and advice, his position on the board, but of the wisdom that steve jobs brought to any room, any situation.
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disney has a lot of characters. donald duck, mickey mouse, so forth. why did you need to buy the characters from marvel entertainment? series ormic book characters. why did you feel that was such an important deal? bob: in 2005, we were starting to see a huge amount of disruption to our business. mostly thanks to technology. one of the things that new technology was bringing was an explosion of what was being produced. creativity and consumer choice in the entertainment field. i thought that with so much more consumer choice, that high quality branded entertainment would be even more valuable. after the pixar acquisition was successful, we created a list of
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targets. they all were consistent with what i just laid out. high quality branded entertainment. marvel and star wars where the top of the list. david: you then went to talk to george lucas and said, by the way, i would like to buy your company and we will make star wars in the future and you can watch the movie but we will make it. was that hard, for him to give up creative control? we saw in start wars something that was extraordinary. that georgece being was the creator of it and the sole shareholder of it. it was really who he was. pointlained to me at some that when he passes, it will say star wars creator george lucas. this was like selling his birthright. i had a lot of empathy for him. it was hard.
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i don't know whether he's had second thoughts about it, but i would guess that it has worked out well for him and his family. david: i can't speak for him, but i think he's happy with the stock price increase he got. let me ask about the last acquisition. of the ones you've made, they weren't what i would call "bet your company" acquisitions. said heert murdoch might be interested in selling part of his company, did you worry about, if it didn't work out, it could be the end of your job, things like that? every one ofe into these acquisitions with a level of confidence that not only were they the right acquisitions at but that werice, laid out the reasoning behind
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the acquisition. david: as executive chairman, you have a little more free time . if you don't go into the biden administration, what are you going to do to top what you've done and keep yourself energized? you just went onto the board of a food company. what do you want to do to top what you've already done? bob: i don't need to top what i've done. i'm satisfied with what i've accomplished. if i could do it again, i wouldn't change anything. i'm not looking to do that at all. i'm looking for things that are stimulating. whether that is in the public or private sector. have you considered the highest calling of mankind, which is private equity? bob: i'm not ruling anything out. private equity has served extremely well. i have not made any decisions. i think i'm very excited about
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the next chapter. i'm sure it will be a sorry day for me to leave disney because it has been my home for 46 years, almost 47. on the other hand, there's a whole world out there. i'm looking forward to it. ♪ it's moving day. and while her friends
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are doing the heavy lifting, jess is busy moving her xfinity internet and tv services. it only takes about a minute. wait, a minute? but what have you been doing for the last two hours? delegating? oh, good one. move your xfinity services without breaking a sweat. now that's simple, easy, awesome. xfinity makes moving easy. go online to transfer your services in about a minute. get started today.
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>> is almost 10:30 a.m. in hong kong and shanghai, 9:30 p.m. in new york. lawmakersory, u.s. have approved legislation that could see chinese companies banned from listing in new york if they continue to block official audit reviews. the house passed a bill that cleared the senate in may. president trump is expected to sign it. the legislation would require companies to disclose whether they are under chinese government control. boeing is set to be near to key milestones. the 737 max returned to service
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and the first deliveries since its grounding was lifted. united is expected to receive the first max since march of last year. brazilian airlines says it will resume max flights on december 10, more than two weeks before u.s. carriers. theesters returned to streets of bangkok after the constitutional court rejected a petition to disqualify the prime minister from office. the ruling says he didn't violate ethics rules by living in military housing after leaving the army. protest leaders say the verdict proves double standards. global news, 24 hours a day, on-air and at quicktake on twitter, powered by more than 2700 journalists and analysts in more than 120 countries. i'm karina mitchell. this is bloomberg. seeing asian stocks post modest gains, rising for a third session


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