Disney and CEO Bob Iger take a victory lap after Nelson Peltz fails to secure seats on the board

After a heated battle for control, Nelson Peltz failed to secure seats on Disney’s board for himself and former Disney CFO Jay Rasulo.

Last Updated on April 5, 2024

Disney, Bob Iger, killed projects

Uncork the champagne and prep the Disney yacht because the Walt Disney Company and CEO Bob Iger have reasons to celebrate after activist investor Nelson Peltz failed to secure a seat on the board for himself and former Disney CEO Jay Rasulo.

Peltz aimed to kick Disney directors Maria Elena Lagomasino and Michael Froman from their prominent positions, replacing them with Peltz and Rasulo. Peltz failed after launching an aggressive campaign in January via his Trian Partners. Still, the effort petered out in February after Iger announced a studio-wide reboot, causing Disney’s share prices to skyrocket.

The proxy battle between the mouse-eared company, Iger and Peltz, got nasty as both parties vowed to control the Walt Disney Company empire. Disney even went so far as to release a political-style ad framing Trian in a less-than-favorable light. Trian clapped back with a statement saying they were not targeting Iger but the board overall. However, in a two-faced move, leaks indicate Trian voted against Iger in the board vote.

Elsewhere, Blackwells Capital proposed its own group of directors, though its humble shareholdings and attacks on Peltz weakened the organization’s position, rendering them a non-entity in the matter.

In his bid for a place on the board, Peltz highlighted Disney’s dwindling stock price and released a 130-page whitepaper outlining changes he’d make to the company if he were to gain influence. Peltz’s ideas include “right-sizing” the film and linear TV businesses and achieving Netflix-level margins promptly. Trian also floated the idea of reducing ESPN’s direct-to-consumer ambitions.

Peltz ruffled some feathers in March when he criticized Disney for its “woke” film agenda with movies like Black Panther and those featuring female heroes like Black Widow and Captain Marvel. “Why do I have to have a Marvel that’s all women? Not that I have anything against women, but why do I have to do that? Why can’t I have Marvels that are both? Why do I need an all-Black cast?”

To note, Iger has previously weighed in on whether Disney’s films had become pre-occupied with messaging, and he doubled down in comments after the vote, saying (excerpted by THR), “Our job is to entertain first and foremost, and by telling great stories, we continue to have a positive impact on the world and inspire future generations, just as we’ve done for over 100 years. Disney has always been and will continue to be a source of hope, joy and optimism for people of all ages. We’re committed to telling stories that reflect the world around us and using those stories to entertain people from all walks of life.”

While Peltz recognizes that Disney’s stock price is in better shape than when the battle for the board began, he thinks he can do better. “All we want is for Disney to get back to making great content and delighting consumers and for Disney to create sustainable long term value for all of its shareholders,” Peltz said. “We believe the board needs to continue to improve its focus alignment and accountability. And we hope it will.” He added that Trian “will be watching the company’s performance.”

While the battle for the board was heated, Disney had some help from its friends, like George Lucas, Michael Eisner, and Laurene Powell Jobs, who all went to bat for the studio, saying they had confidence in Disney’s ability to right the ship.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.