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Disney CEO Bob Iger on Monday said his company will begin laying off staff this week, the first of three rounds of expected cuts following his announcement in February that the company would eliminate 7,000 jobs.
The cuts to Disney’s global workforce are part of a multibillion-dollar cost-cutting initiative aimed at streamlining the company’s operations in a period of media industry turmoil.
Layoffs are expected to occur regularly until “the beginning of the summer”
Iger said the layoffs would come in three waves. The first round will begin this week, and managers will soon start to notify affected employees. A second, larger round of layoffs will take place in April, Iger said, with several thousand staffers let go. A third round of layoffs will then occur “before the beginning of the summer” to reach the company’s planned goal of eliminating 7,000 jobs.
“The difficult reality of many colleagues and friends leaving Disney is not something we take lightly,” Iger said in the memo. “In tough moments, we must always do what is required to ensure Disney can continue delivering exceptional entertainment to audiences and guests around the world – now, and long into the future.”
Disney (DIS) had about 220,000 workers as of October 1, of which approximately 166,000 were employed in the United States. A cut of 7,000 jobs represents about 3% of its global workforce, according to CNN.
The layoffs follow Iger’s return to Disney in November after the company’s board fired Bob Chapek as its leader.
The layoffs were initially announced in February. The job cuts will be cross-company, hitting Disney’s media and distribution division, parks and resorts, and ESPN.
Disney says jobs are cut “as a part of a strategic realignment”
Disney is following the lead of Warner Bros. Discovery and other legacy media companies that are cutting jobs and spending.
Disney has said its streaming business, led by Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, will stop losing money in 2024. Disney shares are up about 8% this year after falling 44% last year, according to CNBC.
“We have made the difficult decision to reduce our overall workforce by approximately 7,000 jobs as part of a strategic realignment of the company, including important cost-saving measures necessary for creating a more effective, coordinated and streamlined approach to our business,” Iger wrote. “For our employees who aren’t impacted, I want to acknowledge that there will no doubt be challenges ahead as we continue building the structures and functions that will enable us to be successful moving forward.”
Since returning as CEO, Iger has reorganized the company and acknowledged that he’d consider selling Hulu. Disney will host its annual shareholder meeting April 3.