Disney CEO Bob Iger sees his potential pay cut by $13.5 million

Key Points
  • Disney amends its compensation agreement with CEO Bob Iger, reducing his overall bonus opportunities by $13.5 million.
  • It appears the deal between Disney, which won a bidding war with Comcast in July, and Fox is still set to close in the first half of 2019.
  • The company did not provide a reason for the change in Iger's bonus; however, shareholders had pushed back against the CEO's salary last March.
Bob Iger
Stephen Desaulniers | CNBC

Disney CEO Bob Iger saw his potential pay for the year cut by $13.5 million on Monday.

The House of Mouse amended its pay agreement with Iger, reducing his possible total bonuses based on the timely closing of the company's $71 billion deal to merge with Fox's media operations.

It appears Iger and the company came to the decision mutually.

"I am proud to be leading The Walt Disney Company through this important time and believe the changes I, with the Board, have made are in the best interest of the Company," Iger said in a statement Monday.

Iger was awarded $65.6 million for his performance last fiscal year, the result of a pay bump for extending his tenure at Disney through 2021 and stock awards in excess of $35 million.

This year, however, the company eliminated a $500,000 boost to his base salary, keeping it at $3 million. It also cut his potential cash bonus from $20 million to $12 million and reduced his long-term incentive pay from $25 million to $20 million, the company said in a securities filing Monday.

The company did not provide a reason for the change. However, the reduction comes a few months after Disney increased the targets Iger must meet in order to collect his performance bonuses, a move to placate shareholders who pushed back against the CEO's salary last March.

The compensation plan would have given Iger up to $48.5 million a year over four years plus an equity grant worth about $100 million.

Fifty-two percent of shareholders voted against Disney's compensation plan for Iger and other executives, the company said at its annual shareholder meeting in Houston last year. Forty-four percent cast ballots in favor, and 4 percent abstained.

"The board accepts the result of today's non-binding vote and will take it under advisement for future CEO compensation," Aylwin Lewis, chair of the board's compensation committee, said in a statement at the time.

Disney's filing also comes just days ahead of its annual shareholders meeting, in which shareholders will once again hold an advisory vote on executive compensation.

Iger has been Disney's CEO since 2005 and added the title of chairman in 2012.

Disney won the bidding war with Comcast for Fox in July last year and the deal was expected to be complete as early as March 2019. However, the deal hit a snag from regulatory bodies in Brazil, as the country's antitrust regulator took longer than expected to greenlight the deal. It was finally approved last week.

It appears that the deal is still set to close in the first half of the year. Representatives for Disney did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

As part of the deal, Disney will acquire 20th Century Fox's film and television divisions, including notable franchises, such as "Home Alone," "Alien" and "Predator" as well as "The Simpsons."

Owning the film arm of 20th Century Fox not only grants Disney a number of Marvel characters that had been sold off before it acquired Marvel in 2009, but also the powerhouse Fox Searchlight studio. Fox Searchlight is a sister company that operates independently from 20th Century Fox and has produced films such as "The Shape of Water," "Slumdog Millionaire," "12 Years a Slave" and "Birdman," all of which won best picture at the Oscars in the last decade.

Disclosure: CNBC's parent company NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast.

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