updated 9/21/2004 9:52:37 AM ET 2004-09-21T13:52:37

Michael Eisner expects to sever all business ties with Walt Disney when he leaves his chief executive post at the end of his contract in two years.

According to extracts from an interview to be published next week, he has not asked the board, which met on Monday to plan its succession policy, either to keep his seat on the board or take over as chairman.

He also reinforced his controversial endorsement of Robert Iger, his second-in-command, to succeed him, claiming that the ABC television veteran was currently managing "90 percent of the company".

The interview, to be published in Fortune, the business magazine, appeared to undermine charges from his most persistent and public critics that he was planning to keep control with his closest colleague in the top management job and himself in the chairmanship.

Former board members Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, who resigned last December, responded to his September 10 resignation announcement with demands that the board should immediately hire headhunters to find a new chief executive. The reasons for Mr. Eisner's decision to quit after 22 years in charge remain obscure. "I just decided I wasn't going to be a perpetuity CEO," he told the magazine. "Nobody inside the company knew it was coming, and none of my friends knew it was coming. My assumption is that I would not continue on the board or as chairman."

While apparently ending the speculation about his own plans, he appeared unbowed by criticisms of his public nomination of Mr. Iger as his replacement.

"I made myself clear to the company that they have a candidate who not only has the experience in all the businesses in which we operate but also understands the Disney culture, is extremely well-liked inside the company and out, and manages 90 percent of the company today," he said.

Mr. Eisner also claimed that public conflicts with Pixar and the management of Disney's Miramax film subsidiary had "nothing at all to do with personalities", and the future of the fractured links between its animated feature partner and Miramax founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein was "simply an issue of value to our shareholders".

Mr. Eisner's abrasive style has been a source of persistent criticism, as has his penchant for "micromanagement", which he defended in the interview. His interviewer seemed to consider it an ailment in need of hospital treatment, he said, but he considered it "a work ethic and a demand for product quality".

Mr. Eisner, 62, who was stripped of the group chairmanship in March, said he had no plans to retire: "I have a full business life ahead of me. "I'm not the type to retire."

© The Financial Times Ltd 2013. "FT" and "Financial Times" are trademarks of the Financial Times.


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