Walt Disney Co. said Friday that Chief Executive Bob Iger will step down from that role in March 2015, as part of a larger succession plan that also has Chairman John Pepper retiring from the board next year.

Iger, 60, succeeded Michael Eisner as chief executive of the Burbank entertainment giant in October 2005. His contract, which was due to expire in 2013, has been extended until 2016.

Under the new contract, Iger adds the chairman title on March 2012 after Pepper steps down. He will hold both jobs through March 31, 2015, and after retiring as CEO will continue as executive chairman through June 30, 2016.

“The board is delighted that the company has been able to secure the longer-term continuation of Bob’s unique blend of experience and leadership skills,” said Pepper, who has been chairman since 2007. “His ability to bring together the many parts of Disney’s business against a clear and proven strategy, while instilling a culture of innovation, collaboration and discipline, will continue to serve the long-term interests of shareholders.”

The company did not mention potential successors, but analysts believe contenders include Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo and Tom Staggs, who runs Disney's theme parks and resorts division.

The announcement was made a few hours before the markets closed. Disney shares closed down 33 cents, or 1 percent, to $31.70 on the New York Stock Exchange.