Disney CEO wins fight with activist investor for board seats

Disney CEO wins fight with activist investor for board seats
Disney CEO wins fight with activist investor for board seats

Walt Disney shareholders gave CEO Bob Iger a big vote of confidence by rejecting dissident investor Nelson Peltz’s bid for a seat on the giant entertainment company’s board.

Shareholders elected all of Disney’s picks to the board, rejecting Peltz’s nomination, executives announced Wednesday at the company’s annual meeting. Investors also rejected Peltz’s ally, former Disney finance chief Jay Rasulo, and a slate from Blackwells Capital, another splinter group.

The result is a clear victory for Iger, 73, who has been fighting to keep Peltz off the board since returning as CEO in November 2022. In recent months, Iger has sought to respond to investor concerns by resolving a political dispute with to Florida, bringing in new directors to oversee the succession and promising a profit soon from the streaming from the company.

Peltz’s Trian Fund Management holds a stake in Disney valued at more than $3.5 billion and has been fighting for board seats to address lagging returns to shareholders, which he says are the result of inadequate corporate governance .

Disney investors saw the situation differently, with Peltz getting just 31% of the votes cast, according to people familiar with the matter. Rasulo received even less support, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss results that have not been released publicly. Iger was re-elected with 94% support.

“This is also our second attempt with Disney and we hope it will be the last and that shareholders will not be disappointed as they were a year ago,” Peltz said at the meeting before the vote was announced. “Regardless of the outcome of today’s vote, Trian will be monitoring the company’s performance.”

In a statement after the vote, Trian said it was “proud of the impact we have had in refocusing this company on value creation and good governance.”

Disney shares fell as much as 2% to $120.41 after the vote. Shares are up 36% this year through Tuesday’s close.

In preparation for the annual meeting, Iger and the board gained support from Glass Lewis & Co., JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, and major shareholders including George Lucas, Laurene Powell Jobs, and members of the Disney family.

Peltz gained support from consultants Institutional Shareholder Services and Egan-Jones, current and former directors of Procter & Gamble, Mondelez International and Janus Henderson, where he previously held board positions.

Iger returned to lead Disney more than a year ago to replace his handpicked successor, Bob Chapek. Under Chapek, Disney suffered huge losses from streaming. He has also been involved in a fight with Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, over state legislation that restricts gender discussion in public schools.

In his second term, Iger cut annual costs by $7.5 billion, eliminated 8,000 jobs and began working on the company’s underperforming film business. He revealed plans to make Disney’s flagship sports programming available on ESPN to online viewers. The company also appointed a panel of board members to oversee the search for a successor for Iger, whose contract runs through 2026.

Additionally, Disney reinstated its dividend, announced plans to invest $60 billion in its parks and resorts over the next 10 years, and deepened its involvement in the video game business through a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, Fortnite maker.

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The article is in Portuguese

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