Disney chief executive Robert Iger has announced he is stepping down, with the boss of the company’s parks division taking over the entertainment giant.

In a surprise announcement, Mr Iger said he was leaving the post with immediate effect, but will continue in the role of chairman until the end of his contract on December 31 2021.

He is being replaced by Bob Chapek, who has been at Disney for 27 years and had been overseeing the company’s parks division. Mr Chapek became chief executive on Tuesday.

Robert Iger
Robert Iger is standing down as chief executive of Disney (Isabel Infantes/PA)

In a statement, Mr Iger said it was the “optimal time to transition” following Disney’s 71 billion dollar (£55bn) takeover of 21st Century Fox and the launch of its streaming service, Disney+.

His 15-year spell at the helm of Disney has seen high-profile acquisitions such as Pixar, Marvel, Lucas Films and 21st Century Fox, and he leaves the House Of Mouse as a global powerhouse.

Mr Iger was a frequent presence at Disney film premieres, including the European bow of The Lion King last year, where the Duke of Sussex was filmed touting his wife’s availability for voiceover work.

The 69-year-old was recently pictured posing with Hollywood actors Tom Holland and Chris Pratt on the red carpet for Pixar’s Onward film in Los Angeles.

In the statement announcing his departure, Mr Iger said he will continue to focus on Disney’s “creative endeavours”.

Mr Chapek becomes the seventh chief executive officer in the 97-year history of Disney.